Exploring the world of fiber, one draft at a time

My posting can be as frequent or infrequent as my spinning, so be as patient as that fiber, sitting in my stash.

Thursday, August 11, 2005

New skills and letting go

No pictures for this post, just a bit of philosophical blather.

First things first, I am doing the happy dance here because I have finally successfully navajo plied some singles. I've put off trying to learn this skill because in spite of reading about it and watching a spinning buddy do it, I could never make sense of what was actually happening between fingers and yarn. I guess the synapes finally connected and reached my fingers this week though, because I sat down with a small sample of single ply and made a loop and was plying loop after loop with ease. I was surprised to find that the 'bump' everyone claimed would be in the yarn when plied this way, was really not noticable. That was something else that had always made me hesitate about trying the technique.

This experience has made me believe in the existence of the knowledge of the common mind though. All those spinners all over the world that can navajo ply have put the knowledge in the common mind, and that knowledge just finally reached my humble farm and fingers! I believe because I didn't attempt this technique with book in hand, I just sat down and did it. It sort of felt like reinventing spinning itself .

Knowing how to do this is a very good thing, because now I can make the big skein of Jacob yarn the way I envisioned it. I have spun long stretches of different colors in a single and really did not want to ply those and risk the colors not matching. I can navajo ply that single and keep the colors together. I will also now be able to spin the lovely roving I won last year at SOAR, donated by Rovings, that is a polworth roving dyed in long splashes of fall colors. I will spin the whole pound as a single and then navajo ply the yarn. In fact, now I can hardly wait to get my fingers on it!

As I have been working up this Jacob fleece, I took a big section of the light gray color and carded the washed fleece into big batts. I was starting to spin these batts, when I realized that the way I spin was defeating the whole purpose of that fluffy carded fleece. I tend to split pieces off the batt long ways, and spin that in an inch worm fashion, and for the most part, straightening out those fibers before letting the twist enter them. I decided to try a true woolen yarn with those batts by trying the long draw method.

I have never mastered the long draw. I have seen spinners spin one handed, just the hand holding the fiber moving back and forth to the wheel. I must have too many control issues, I had to learn, over and over again, to just let go! I finally compromised, since I really could not do the one handed drafting, by holding a large chunk of the batt in my left hand, and placing my right hand, palm facing me and open. That way the fiber ran past my right hand but I was not actually pinching or smoothing the yarn before it ran onto the bobbin.

This was unbelieveable hard for me to do. I am a smoother by nature LOL. I can not stand fiber that has little bits of noils in it, I have to pull them out and smooth the yarn. So time after time, as I was practicing this, I had to repeat, let it go, let it go. It became the mantra of the hour, and sometimes I would find a nice relaxed zone as the fiber whizzed by, and sometimes I caught myself fiddling with the right fingers again and would have to tell myself, let it go.

I think I may have a life lesson here too. Little bits of mess in life don't really hurt and lovely stuff happens, when one just lets go.


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