Saturday, March 26, 2016

A spinners toolbox

As I am beginning to work more mindfully and deliberately at improving my spinning quality and consistency, I am learning about the importance of things I had previously not given much (or any) thought to as a beginner.

Wraps per inch has always been a useful concept, but only as it relates to a finished product.  I had never given it any thought as it relates to yarn-in-progress.  I am beginning to learn (finally), that a finished yarn can be consistent throughout the entire skein.  There doesn't need to be a LOT of variation, or even very much at all.  If you stop to check your work periodically, just as you might stop to check your gauge periodically throughout a knitting project, you will end up with a much better quality yarn.

Right now, I am spinning a bump of Shetland roving into a fine lace yarn for a shawl.  I will need about 1000 yards.  In prior projects, I have always started spinning, finished spinning, wound and measured my yarn, and then been inevitably disappointed as I have fallen short of my spinning goal - often by several hundred yards.  
This time, I have started differently.  To begin with, I spun a sample.  It was not a big sample.  A mere few yards to give me an idea of how heavy the finished yarn will be.  But several yards of a sample also gives me a good idea of:
A) my weight to yardage ratio, or yards per pound.  This tells me how much yarn I can expect to get at my desired weight.  I will do a separate post another time about the math involved in figuring out ypp.  Basically, the short version is to spin a sample of a few grams, figure out how many yards are in a gram or an ounce, and then multiply that by the correct number to figure out how many yards to a pound or grams to a meter, etc.  
B) my twist angle.  My current yarn has a twist angle of 15degrees, give or take a bit.  If I want the finished yarn to look consistent throughout, I can stop and check the angle once in a while.  What you see in the picture above is a printed protractor.  Whether you use the top or both depends on whether you are spinning s- or z-twist, which I'm not going to get into right now.  Lay the yarn on top of your printed protractor and line up the twist angle.  I think I'll do a more in depth post on this later when I don't have Mouselette asking me 59 million questions. 
C) my wraps per inch.  This tells me what the yarn weight is, whether that be laceweight or bulky.  This gives me an idea what sort of project would look great with this yarn.

In short, keeping the twist and wraps per inch as consistent as possible throughout the spinning project will help me wind up with a more consistent and balanced yarn at the end.

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Thin threads

I finished this yarn the other night.  It is one of my finest so far.  I am trying to learn how to spin gossamer threads.  I don't know why, really, as I don't actually knit with super fine lace.  Maybe I will, though, if I can get my threads thin enough.
A commercial laceweight is usually around 400-440yds to 50g. This skein measures 484yds and is 66g.  If I did my math right (and never count on me to do math right), that works out to something like 3326 yards per pound.  According to charts, that is definitely a laceweight yarn right there.  It's not quite as fine as a commercial laceweight, coming in at roughly 386yds to 50g, but it is definitely a laceweight.

A gossamer yarn is about 6000yds to a pound.  It's about 3-5strands in a single.  I'm not sure either my or my wheel can handle that just yet.  But I'll keep trying.

On a separate note, I haven't posted my cotton tutorial yet on account of either YouTube or my computer being dumb.  The video uploads, but the conversion process keeps failing and I keep having to delete and start over.  I got frustrated enough that I chose to walk away.  Then it was March break, and NOTHING was happening over March break, except the Mouselette asking me a few times if I can please buy her a spinning wheel of her own.

Yes.  Absolutely.  If I can find one that's the right size for under $100.  And since I probably can't, the answer remains a sad little no for now.  I will buy her a bobbin of her own, though.  I think a bright pink akerworks one or something like that.

Saturday, March 12, 2016

Rolags and roving, pt 2

Continuing with the video blog and tutorial format, my next video is on taking rolags and predrafting them out into mini rovings.

I would love to take requests.  If there is a video tutorial you really want to see, please let me know.

Up next: cotton

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Rolags and roving

Nearly everything I know about spinning, weaving, knitting, and fiber prep has been learned via the wonderful online community.  YouTube is always an amazing and endless source of tutorials, tips, and tricks.

So in the spirit of giving back to the community from which I have learned so much, I have started doing a few demos of my own.

Here is my first one.  Creating rolags on a hand card.

Tune in next time to see me turn rolags into roving.

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

GSD: continued progress.

I am continuing my rampage of cleaning and organizing All The Things!  I moved my spinning stash away from my yarn to separate the bigger task into two more manageable units.
I've been taking pictures of the progress, but in all honesty, it looks less like progress and more like moving piles around as I try sort through what I have.  And man, I have a lot!  I found a 3oz bag of angora, a 4 oz bag of huacaya, a bag of I-don't-know softness (BFL or merino... It is insanely soft).

While digging up long lost buried treasures of softness, I have been practicing my lace spinning.  It's been amazing.  I adore the Little Gem.

That dark thread on the left is regular old sewing thread.  The thread on the right is a handcarded angora/silk blend.  
At first, I planned on plying it with some llama roving that I had, but the result was slightly scratchier than I would like to wear around my neck.  So, when I found the Huacaya alpaca locks, I started spinning those up into a matching lace. 
It's hard to see the thinness of the yarn without a comparison, but it is actually slightly thinner than the angora.  I am going to spin the entire bag of each and ply them, and then ply whatever is left of the alpaca (there's more of that than of the angora) back on itself.

In the meantime, Mouselette has taken to spinning with ease.
This is her first handspun.  She did the single herself.  I wrapped it into an Andean plying loop and plied it for her.  She has asked me to knit it into a blanket,  which I would... If there were more than 11ft. 😉