Thursday, August 2, 2012

Exploding Threads

Well, it looks like an explosion to me!

You know, it's going to be 107F today. That's hot by anyone's standards, although those of us who have lived in north central Texas for any considerable length of time ... we expect this during August. After almost a couple of decades later, I've quit complaining about it. Complaining about the weather gets a body no where. No. Where.

So what's a body to do when it's going to be 107F outside? This body decided to spin some wool! After all, the air conditioning unit is still in good working order. And when it's no longer in good working order, a buddy of ours is part owner in company that sells and services air conditioners. So I guess you can say: "We've got it all covered."

I bought this wool roving from Cindy when I was visiting the "Little Red Barn" last Saturday afternoon. It was hot then too. But inside the Little Red Barn were more than a handful of lovely ladies who were either spinning yarn or knitting or crocheting yarn. Because we know, know quite well, that it will not always be well over 100F in our little ole spot of Texas, and we will be glad for the yarn and scarves and hats and socks and shawls and whatever else is being crafted in the dog days of July and August!

I've had my eye on this particular rope of roving that Cindy dyed herself a while back. Since it was still there on Saturday, and my budget wasn't totally destroyed by then, I decided that rope of roving was meant to be mine. The COLOR was screaming at me. Wild, isn't it? I love the spots of blue and white interspersed amidst the color of a nice pinot noir. I must learn how to dye wool! But not with a nice pinot noir.

I love the act of taking an length of fiber and have it magically turn into thread. I know, I know, it's not really magic; it's actually science ... but it's cool all the same.

I'm getting pretty good at spinning a thread with a relatively consistent thickness.

I think this fiber is Bluefaced Leicester ... it definitely has a nice, long staple (the length of a single piece of fiber) which is helpful to newbies like me. I pulled the roving apart into sections of smaller thicknesses to save time drafting. Drafting is the means of getting the desired amount of fiber into the spin zone. There's all sorts of information about the mechanisms of spinning all over the internet. I'm not even going to try to reinvent the proverbial wheel!

This picture shows the "stored energy" of what I call "the spin zone." This energy gets released when one moves their fingers up the drafted length of fiber ... the spin follows the fingers until it's played out. But not too played out, or else the spin zone falls completely apart! Something that has happened to me plenty of times.

That is probably the single most important "trick" to learn in spinning ... how to keep just the right amount of energy in the spin at any part in the process. I know this is something that will take time, and frankly, LOTS of time, to master. This is one craft I've started that did not instantly come to me! In learning to spin thread/yarn, there are no shortcuts. Not even with a wheel. Using a wheel requires the same level of experience of drawing just the right amount of fiber into the spin to get the desired result in the final product.

Because I'm using the spindle to spin my threads, I use the "park and draft" method Cindy taught me and it's a method that is easy to do. And with enough practice, I am surprised at how quickly I can work through a length of roving.

I generally have two "parking" episodes per length of spun thread before loading it on the spindle. The first park is usually with my knees, the second park with my feet. This way I am able to spin a fairly long length before winding it to the spindle which I find speeds the process along nicely.

Feet are really wonderful things! They are good for more than just getting one's body from point A to point B. I'm still nursing a broken toe on my left foot, but it still works wonders in parking my spindle.

The character of color this yarn will have is already showing itself on the spindle and I believe I am really going to like it! I'm looking forward to seeing how it looks after it's plied (plyinig is taking two or more strands of spun thread/yarn and spinning them together to give the final product additional strength). I have a feeling that whatever I make with this yarn, both my daughter and I are going to like it and will probably have a battle or two over it! Hopefully we will be able to work out a mutually beneficial arrangement.

Or, if there is enough, I can always spin enough to make two projects! I've already been combing through in search for the perfect pattern for this yarn. If this link does not bring you to the page showing all the patterns that match my search criteria, then you will need to open an account with Ravelry to see it. Go ahead and sign up ... it's free and it's a really great site for all things knitted and crocheted!

So here it is ... my NEW favorite past time during the really long days of the Texas summer.

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