Monday, March 14, 2011

A Spinning Workshop

Dear Mom,
When the trip we had planned for the weekend had to be postponed, I did some quick thinking and with a lot of luck, I was able to secure a place for myself in a Spinning Workshop held both Saturday and Sunday at Tabby Tree Weaver.
Before I could attend the workshop I needed to empty some bobbins, and finished plying this:
This is one of the rovings I hand-dyed at the dye workshop I took almost a year ago, plied with some merino roving I had in the spinning stash.

The workshop was held in the Arcadia Town Hall so there was plenty of room.

Our instructor was Patsy Z. She is an extremely patient spinning expert, and a Very Nice lady. I am fascinated by people who take their hobbies to an art form and become authorities on the subject. Patsy Z is able to break down her wealth of knowledge, in a casual, friendly way, into pieces small enough for beginners to understand. I learned a whole bunch more about my wheel. I have a better understanding of how to make Daphne Joy work for me and how to adjust and tweak her to get the yarn I want.
Before the class I was pretty much a one trick pony. I had my default drafting style and pretty much made one kind of yarn. I was happy enough with that. It was/is pretty yarn I could knit with, but I couldn't tell you how it was spun and I wouldn't have been able to make it any differently.

This morning I am hoping to just remember a fraction of what I learned. When I left class yesterday, I was making yarn that was finer than any I had ever been able to spin. I now know that I've been spinning my yarn worsted. I learned how to woolen spin, and knowing the type of knitting I like to do and yarn I prefer to knit with, I know that this new (to me) style, which results in a softer, loftier yarn with less stitch definition, is something that I probably won't do too much of, but is good to know if ever I do want to spin a soft fluffy yarn. I learned that how I had been holding the roving in my back hand was creating some of the bumps I had in my yarn. I learned how to spin "over the fold" ( at least I think that is what it is called) and I really liked that technique. It stops the bad habit I had with my right hand of gripping the roving too hard in an attempt at control. This is the stuff lumps are made of! I realized that even though I find spinning to be relaxing, I am mentally in a rush to see the yarn. I need to slow down and savor the process. It is worth it.

We spent a portion of class on Sunday morning learning how to prepare a dirty fleece for spinning. Having dealt with a couple of bags of very dirty fleece, I had a little bit of experience, but learned so much more that I want to tackle this third bag I have entirely on my own rather than send it out for processing. I won't feel so guilty discarding some of the shorter pieces of wool, called second cuts ( those result in little nups or even pills in the yarn), and the really dirty pieces will get discarded, too. Before, I was trying to salvage almost everything and trying to clean some really nasty bits.

We then moved on to different ways to card and comb the wool once it has been washed. This may have been the point that I realized that if I didn't apply any kind of deadline on myself, I could wash, comb and spin the fleece I have at a leisurely pace, enjoy the process and have some yarn that, excepting the important sheep care and shearing processes, I would have made without any sort of outside intervention.
During the workshop we were given several different rovings and some unprepared but clean fleece to compare and spin. Having that variety of samples over the course of two days made it possible for me to understand the differences in the fleeces and the way they were prepared. It helped me to know what I want to look for when buying a roving and when/if I ever purchase a fleece.

GoodGracious. Until I started writing all this it didn't occur to me how much territory we covered!

I have little samples of some of those different wools on my bobbins.

That blue yarn was specially dyed for Tabby Tree by Rita Pettys of  Yarnhollow. It is called "Home Team Blue" in honor of the Colts, and is a Tabby Tree exclusive. Rita taught the dye workshop I attended last spring. The blue is also plied using the "Miss America" technique. Used for small amounts of yarn on the bobbin, it involves wrapping the spun yarn around one hand in such a way that allows you to ply it back onto itself.The Miss America name is derived from the gentle wave of the hand that has the yarn wrapped around it.

Last night I gave Daphne Joy a rest, and finally cast on for March's socks. I didn't get too far before all that learning caught up to me. I waved the white flag and went to bed. While I was attending the classes, My Hero painted the guest room, and I've touched up the stain on the woodwork and cleaned the carpet. I'll hang the shades and start moving the furniture that I am able to lift by myself back in today and we should have another room checked off the spring cleaning list!

I must exercise every bit of restraint I have and tend to my chores. What I really want to do is play with wool and fleeces and put into practice the things I learned!