This Is Not As Easy As It Looks


Spinning looks like it is pretty easy.  Someone sits at a wheel, turns the wheel by pushing a treadle with their foot and just holds the wool as the wheel pulls it onto the bobbin and makes yarn – right?

Wrong.

First is the treadling.  It takes more than a little practice to be able to control the wheel to keep it going in one direction because if you stop it in the wrong spot, it starts to go the other direction – so that if your wheel is spinning clockwise and you stop and then start spinning counterclockwise, you will untwist everything you just spun.  And you want to spin your thread with the wheel moving clockwise because you are going to ply your yarn with the wheel going counterclockwise (widdershins).  And if the wheel stops going in the direction you want it to go and you let go of the roving to turn the wheel into proper position, then the twist can move up into your unspun roving and that messes up your ability to draft that yarn and it comes out with fat lumps and it is all just a mess.

Sigh.  Then comes fiber length.  In the beginning spinning with a long fiber length wool is optimal because it is more forgiving.  You have more time to fix what you are doing before the roving separates or your thread breaks.  The Romney I spun was a long fiber length.  Unfortunately, I don’t like the feel of Romney wool yarn – it is rather harsh.

When I bought Linda Lou, I also got a ball of Mohair roving (the white ball on the left) and two balls of Romney roving (middle and right).  Those are the first rovings I practiced with.

Then at Rhinebeck I picked up 5 ounces of Cormo roving – which I discovered when I sat to spin it – was a much shorter length fiber.

This roving I pre-drafted – meaning I tried to pull it apart so that the fibers were already separated to be spun before I sat down to the wheel so that I could concentrate more on feeling the twist, being more conscious of applying the “brake” when needed on the wheel to keep the yarn spinning onto the bobbin, and trying to get a more continuous wheel action going.

If any or all of this is not making sense to you, don’t feel bad.  I had to take a class just to be able to understand all of the written descriptions of spinning I was reading and even then I had to go back because there were so many little things (like how to tie the leader thread onto the bobbin) that were not explained.

Anyway, the shorter fibers made it much easier for the drafted roving to just float apart when I would draw it up to spin – so there was alot of stop and start and breaks to be overlapped in the spinning of the Cormo.

Yeah, pretty bad.  Even I wince when looking at this one.

I started to make adjustments at this point.  I made the threads a little thicker so that the breakage was controlled better and I held my hands closer together to account for the shorter fiber length.  Here – proof I was actually doing this.

But what I can say is that by the end of the second bobbin of Cormo is wasn’t looking so bad.

Not great – but a whole lot better than the first bobbin.

So here I was with four bobbins of spun wool.  Mohair, Romney, Cormo 1 and Cormo 2.

Now what.

I knew the next step in making yarn was plying the threads into yarn.  Of course, I would have to ditch the thread on one of the bobbins as I needed a clear bobbin to ply the other three fibers onto.  Easy choice.  Cormo 1 was sacrificed for its bobbin.

Now plying was funny – since no one showed me how to do it.  So I sat with the three bobbins of fiber thread – which was all kinds of crazy in width and twist and mistakes – and threaded the three threads through my back hand and twisted them together onto the last bobbin (going counterclockwise this time) and I came up with . . .

don’t laugh . . .

okay . . .

you can laugh . . .

I have no idea what to do with this.  I will keep it if only to someday show (hopefully) how far I have come.  But now I have all four bobbins clear and I can start all over again.  I think the brown and blue roving look nice . . .

I’ll let you know how it goes.

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About Shelly R.

I am a Mother, a daughter, a sister, a wife, an attorney, a crafter and the granddaughter of an amazing woman - my Polish Grandmother. My Grandmother gave me so much, through her love and her patience, her sayings and her time teaching me how to craft and to give to others, that it seemed fitting to share some of that wisdom, to tell some of her story, and to chat about life and crafts in a way that would be a testament to what she gave me.
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2 Responses to This Is Not As Easy As It Looks

  1. danielle says:

    OMG that first picture of the Cormo just made me really laugh out loud! But you know, the last picture of it plyed (plied?)…I think it looks kinda cool. Artsy.

    I can’t wait to see more and how you progress!

  2. Shelly R. says:

    Spinning the Cormo was a nightmare. It was just sooooo short and the fibers separated so easily. It took awhile to get down how thin you could go and still maintain thread strength. Part of why the plied part looks so funny is that it encompasses different levels of comfort in spinning the three spools of thread so there was no continuity of the thickness of the threads on the different spools. So I would be plying thread thin with thicker mohair and it was just crazy. I’m still in practice phase though so I knew I was not trying to make yarn yet. I just wanted to practice the method of plying. I am so glad I decided against showing you how to spin using the Cormo. You would have never wanted to use a wheel!!

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