Like The Queen
Whatever happens to strike my fancy, but surely some sort of fiber content.


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Saturday, April 19, 2003  

How I love it when I make that next intellectual leap. There’s such a rush of power and mastery to realize I understand what they are talking about...or in my case, what they are writing about. (Hmmmm I wonder if it is still illegal to end a sentence with a preposition. Our language is so casual now that some of these phrases feel like idioms. eh. wandering mind here)

There now. That opening salvo, with ENFP digression, intended to heighten suspense, should have pricked your curiosity. On to spinning talk.

I knew I was going to learn to spin before I had any spinning equipment. I began reading books on spinning and just as quickly realized that I barely understood what the authors were saying. The language would become technical and my eyes would drift. I’d flip through the pages looking at the photos then put the book down to daydream or start knitting or just go to sleep. 11 months after buying my first spindle, 9 months after bringing home HeyBaby, I’m re-reading those same books and nodding and murmuring “Oh! So that’s why!” and getting out of bed at ungodly hours to try “straightening the yarn without stretching it”. I understand what they are talking about so my mind stays engaged.

Of course, this is not an intellectual leap. It is the result of clawing my way up the Mountain of Comprehension to a nice flat ledge where I can sit a while and look out over the landscape of my experience and assess where I’ve been and what I now know. It merely feels like a leap in comparison to the creeping climb. But it sure feels good.

In an article in the summer ‘97 issue of SpinOff, author Gloria Hall describes her experiments on spinning superfine merino for lace. Since I too just attempted my first fine spun merino and was less than satisfied with the results - I was particularly interested in what she had to say. Her preparations involved careful splitting and pre-drafting her merino top into pencil roving. Then she “straightened” her fibers, applying enough tension to straighten the crimp but not to the point that the fibers are stretched beyond their natural length. To quote her: “Stretching the fibers past the stage of straightening ... stretched fibers relax unevenly after spinning, resulting in a crinkly, less elastic yarn that feels wiry compared to a yarn spun from straightened fibers. Too much take up tension on the wheel is the most common cause of stretched fibers.” I suspect in my case, it was also trying to spin on that larger whorl. Time to change the drive band, Bess.

She also gives good tips on plying these fine spun singles. She says that placing a finger between the two plies will almost always result in a spiral yarn; one ply wrapping around the other. I do see that in my finespun. I also hold my singles that way when plying. She suggests having both plies drawn over a stationary index finger with the thumb laid gently on top, much like the leather tension strap on a Louet wheel. The other hand pinches the twist, then rides up the length of plied yarn to guide it onto the bobbin.

I know for sure I would never have understood what she was talking about a year ago. I may not even have read the entire article. Now, though, I’m ready for this information and can’t wait to try out these techniques. Aren’t I lucky it is raining? Thank you, thank you, thank you, SpinOff and Gloria Hall!

The two books I read several times but decided not to buy last year were Handspinning, Dyeing and Working With Merino and Superfine Wools by Margaret Stove and The Alden Amos Big Book of Handspinning by Alden Amos. Information overload, they were. I think I shall borrow them both once again...well, no. I know I want to own Stove’s book, but I will borrow the Amos book and see if it ought to live at my house.

A bit about the garden - which is loving this New England spring. 60’s and rain every couple of days - made the daffodils linger, keeps the blackspot down on the roses, and the lilac - there has neer been such a heavy laden, fragrance filled, lavish gush of purple in my garden.

The ankle is not recovering as quickly as I’d like. I’ve misplaced my shock cord loop for exercising with. (probably deep under the bed, which means vacuuming, ugh) Also, I vainly wore a pair of shoes with heels on Wednesday because I couldn’t bear to wear running shoes when I knew I was going to be photographed. Serves me right.

Two more weeks to Maryland Sheep and Wool festival!!

posted by Bess | 7:43 AM