Today I have a guest post from Choni, who’s be undertaking her own spinning adventure of the last few months (and showing some amazing skill!). She’s sharing the first project that she completed, from fibre all the way to a finished shawl.
Ok so my friend Frances started spinning yarn a while back as an extension of her crochet hobby. I thought it was kind of neat so one day she let me borrow her Russian spindle and some horrible grey fiber (note from Frances: The boyfriend bought me that fibre, let’s hope that he doesn’t read this!) that she said really helped her when she was learning.
Having no idea what I was really doing, me and the grey fiber had some interesting arguments. After this Frances being a lovely friend gave me some other interesting fibers and I had varying levels of success but was already looking at pretty hand dyed rovings on etsy, because I’m a really good online shopper. This is probably where I should mention that without knowing really anything I taught myself a pre-drawing technique that is affectionately referred to as twiddling, it is in Frances’ opinion slower and requires more patience but I enjoy it and find what she does impossible.
(Note from Frances:
Pre-drawing or predrafting involves drafting the fibre to the thickness the single is going to be, and then adding the twist in a separate step. It’s a technique that is well suited to spindles with fast spins but low sustains, like a Russian spindle. And it results in a very consistent single, because you can take the time to make sure everything is even, without having to manage the spindle and the twist at the same time.
However, this technique is not one that would work on very short staple length fibres, like cotton or cashmere, and it would be tricky with very slick fibres, like silk, because the predrafted fibres wouldn’t hold together long enough to add the twist. For the same reason it wouldn’t work if you were making very fine singles.
There’s nothing wrong with predrafting, even if I give Choni a hard time about it sometimes :) But in all honesty I just wouldn’t have the patience! I like to jump straight into the twist, and draft as I go. As a result my singles are rarely as even as Choni’s were right after she’d started spinning, but I’m getting better with practice.
‘Twiddling’ (some of these fibre terms really have me shaking my head… ‘fingering weight’ anyone?) is a related technique, but a bit different. It’s a way of adding twist where instead of setting the spindle spinning on its tip, you twist the spindle around in fingers, never letting it spin on its own. It’s a technique that is used with spindles that have very little sustain, like some Russians, as well as French style spindles. I Imagine that it’s easier with predrafted fibre because you’re not worrying about the draw while manually creating every twist. It also lets you have ultimate control of how much spin is entering the fibre… and it’s another thing that I would never have the patience for!!!)
My first fiber order, mostly filled with things Frances got but there was one in there for me. (Note from Frances: nothing better than having an internet shopping expert as a friend, particularly when they share a hobby with you… or worse, depending on your bank account. But it doesn’t count if you don’t have to pay postage right? This order was from Woolgatherings and included the beautiful baby camel blends that I used to spin my Camel colour yarns, as well as a fibre sampler of 28 breed specific wools, which will be wonderful to spin when I find the time!)
Look at that turquoise! It’s funny I’m a goth but I love color, especially strong colors. I’ve dyed my hair every color of the rainbow.
And then after lots of time on my lounge room floor happily twiddling away (I find it quite peaceful)
I finished it!
And then there was some plying, which hurt my brain because I hadn’t developed my ingenious bottle technique (stay tuned for this simple solution to a painful tangling problem)
And then there was a ball and some knitting needles
My grandmother taught me how to knit when I was about 10,
I think I made a scarf but I remember it being pretty dodgey,
But I can’t crochet despite Frances’ enthusiasm for me to learn how.
So I figured I’d knit my handspun into something a bit harder than a scarf because I like to think I’ve gotten a bit more skilled with age.
Turns out I wasn’t half wrong and my shawl attempt was going reasonably well (note from Frances: this is knitting with handspun from someone who’d hardly ever knitted before (or spun before!), I think that ‘going reasonably well’ is an understatement!)
I’m pretty sure I made a few mistakes out of thoughtlessness but overall it was growing pretty good, only problem was that I was running out of handspun. Oh no!
Generic crappy black yarn to the rescue (note from Frances: this is why top down shawls are great patterns when you’re not sure if you’ll have enough yarn). This is a casting off picture, omg I actually finished a knitting project! All the way from fiber to finished.
It turned out a bit small but I haven’t blocked it yet so it has the potential to grow. Now onward to many more spinning adventures including the its so pretty pink yarn currently on the French spindle and the wonders of the Birthday/Christmas/Love Goth spindle.