Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Too Tightly Wound? Part 2: Spinning

I'm wondering if there's a theme here. We've already looked at the evidence that my knitting might be just a wee bit high-strung. What about the spinning?

Well, first of all, the whole body of work we're talking about here is pretty small. A couple of puffs of mystery wool that I bought along with my handspindle when only the first inklings were dawning that this was something I might like to try. A sweater's worth of Coopworth wool in its various natural undyed colors. Some dyed locks of unknown breed that I bought to try out my brand new handcarders last spring. And a sumptuous Lorna's Laces hand-dyed top that I'm half-way through right now.

Nevertheless, if forced to make a judgment on that small sample, I would have to say that almost all the yarn I have spun has come out... firm. Sturdy. Durable, I'd say. Not that it's a bad thing, but I'm still hoping I might be able to produce something a little more tender and yielding.

On the blogs, I keep reading about how wonderfully soft handspun is, how it's such a pleasure to knit with compared to commercial yarn. Mine doesn't yet have that lovely voluptuous temperament. If anything, it seems a little dour. Oh, it's definitely real yarn, nicely uniform, which is a victory in itself, and one that I'm proud of. It looks beautiful. But the hand is disappointingly no-nonsense. It will probably make a strong fabric that would show cables well and wear like iron.

I have a feeling that I'm making the beginning spinner's mistake of over-twisting everything. I read about how you have to give one type of fiber a little more twist than another to keep it from drifting apart. Let me just say, loosely spun strands drifting apart have not been a problem for me. :)

It's not that my hands can't keep up with the drafting. I believe I've learned reasonably well how to handle and control the supply and draw out the fibers. No, I think what's going on is that I'm so thrilled to have gotten the hang of it that, in sheer exuberance, I'm peddling away on the treadle far too lustily!

A skill like spinning. that you have to get the feel of, seems to be a challenge to learn from books and trial-and-error alone. At each step of the process, it means guessing about what I'm aiming for, what it should feel like. But I'm still learning, analyzing, and each skein brings me a little more knowledge.

So, the jury is still out, but I think the defendant repents and will be trying very hard to abuse helpless fibers no more.

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