Saturday, 25 August 2012

Spin, Wash, Rinse, Dry...Repeat

The spin cycle: I prefer to spin fine singles. It gives me the biggest entertainment value for my buck since it takes longer to spin. If I want a heavier yarn, I can always 3 ply. For this project, I have decided to aim for a sport/worsted weight 2 ply yarn. I figure it should be a happy medium where most of the fibers should show well. I would like them all similar weight for best tactile comparison, coz heck, after doing all this work, I will take it to Guild demonstrations and events we participate in the community and anywhere else  where I can create a Segway in the conversation. A lot of spinners (Well I hear them everywhere) lament their lack of ability to spin anything other than fine yarn the longer they spin. Not so. It means that you have found you comfort zone or default. Now you need to make your wheel work for you. Adjust those pulleys, whorls, brake bands and tensions and spin at that default comfort zone and you will be surprised how you can spin absolutely any weight you choose. Think smaller whorl for smaller yarn, thicker whorl or pulley for thicker yarn.

So…worsted it is. I have my 20g of fiber and I spin it up onto my bobbin…all of it save a wee tuft for my binder. 20g at this weight will give you an easily manageable amount to work with.

I now release my brake band and wind the single onto my ball winder. Without it coming off the leader, I carefully take the yarn off the ball winder, holding on to the inside end. I tie this end to the leader, ready to make a 2 ply working from both the inside and outside of the ball. 

 Tighten up your brake band and start your plying. The first few times may take a bit of juggling but go slow and observe just how the single comes off the ball. This will help you decide the most comfortable and effective way to hold the ball. I have heard some spinners put their thumb into the middle of the ball but I tend to have the inside leader coming on the right (away from my body) and the outside coming easily and untangled off the left (nearest my body). 

Once plied, loosen the brake band again and wind onto a niddy noddy. Secure the skein in several places and you are done!

Wash Cycle: I didn’t really want to wash every skein separately and I’m not quite ready for a blindfolded sheep breed test so I needed a solution to washing several skins at once.
The solution came in the form of wee plastic bread bag locks. I’m not sure if it is just an Aussie thing or the generation I was raised as in recycling before it was even called recycling. I didn’t know about landfills and such, only that a lot of items have awesome uses for other than what they were originally designed.  One of my first jobs where I actualy got paid, was teaching to make paper plate puppets. They were even in an exhibition. Forget thinking outside the box; why even think it a box in the first place I won’t hop onto my soap box but it gives me great satisfaction to repurpose items. Recently my friend Judith from Ontario took our guild by storm with her shopping bags woven from cut up bread bags. Having worked in a commercial kitchen the bread bags drove me to distraction…or concentration to seek a solution. I knit and crocheted them into bags and had a little production of the Care facility residents doing the same.  They took a long time. Jim Crocce, I have a few verses I’d like to add if I could Find time in a Bottle.  Anyway, the woven ones were speedy and it was great to supply the whole guild with bags. The craze even took over my husband, inspiring him to learn to weave. The bread bag conundrum has been solved with a new purpose for the bag locks.

With an indelible ink pen, I write the breed on the lock and clip it to the skein. If you have enough of these tags you can also lock it around your wee fleece sample until you are ready to put it in a binder. If you don’t have enough or any of these bread bag locks, drop me a message and I would be happy to send you an envelope full. Now you can soak all your skeins together. The tags won’t fall off nor does writing rub off.

The Rinse Cycle: After a 20 minute soak in Eucalan, or non-enzyme dish detergent for yarns that were [1]spun in the grease, I gently squeeze the water from the skeins.  Next destination is outside to the patio on my concrete step where I thwack the living daylights out of each skein, maybe 2 at a time, moving the skein 1/8 turn until I have worked my way around the whole skein. This sets the twist. With my hands on the inside of the skein, I snap my hands outwards. This pretty much is my washing process though I have heard of others partaking of the “helicoptering” step. I will admit that I have never even tried this as the visual of the skein flying off my finger as I twirl it, heading over the fence to lasso the aerial of a passing car, down the street and far away is a vision too vivid to ignore.
The drying cycle: is the final step, before the displaying the fruits of your labour. I bought this fantastic round, covered skein/fleece drying rack. I can only guess that spinning is a very popular art as these dryers are everywhere.  They come in all kinds of sizes, number of drying ribs, and coordinating fabric covers. They keep the yarns safe from the elements and marauding packs of chickadees looking for readymade nest walls. They are dual purpose and also serve to provide shade in my garden. My husband calls my drying rack a garden umbrella. Huh.


[1] Fleece that has not been scoured of all its lanolin or grease before spinning is called spinning in the grease. It is just lovely on your hands.

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