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.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Spinning a lock and from the fold YST Episode 63

This project started as a group spin along study in the yarnspinnerstale group on Ravelry. Remember when I posted here about washing locks in mesh to keep them intact for spinning? These are the locks that I used for this study. I talk about all of this too in the yarnspinnerstales podcast, episode 63. I only have photos for four of them, although for the fifth, I have a video of the actual lock spinning process. It's on Youtube and you can find it here. My daughter did a great job with the camera, it was my fault that we had so much background noise. I was super busy, as usual, and we combined a trip to the Greencastle fiber fair and taping of this video. Since we were spending the day together, we just got it done! The locks I am spinning in the video are from the unknown ewe lamb that was in this bunch of samples that I washed. It really was nice to spin, and the yarn came out super thin, especially considering the fact I was spinning on my haldane, a wheel not really known for spinning thin. So that's lesson number one, and really in my mind the whole reason to fuss with washing locks, is that you can spin a super thin yarn with the locks....usually. I'll show you an exception further down in this post. I had spun the entire amount on one bobbin while doing the video, so to ply the yarn I first wound it on my ball winder. While I was doing that I noticed that the single was very well behaved, no kinking at all. I looked at that and decided to try and knit with the single instead of plying it. I knit straight from the ball winder. I found a pattern from an old book, for a coaster for a bridge table. The set of course had all the suits in different coasters, I just made the heart coaster. This is shown in the photo below:
It was a totally unplanned project, knit up in several hours and gave me so much pleasure as I knit and admired the lovely single wool yarn. But back to the other locks and their results. Here's a photo of the next two breeds I want to talk about, including the yarns I spun by the lock:
The top lock is from a romney and was the shortest of all the samples. In spite of the shortness though, it was very easy to spin the lock. The yarn was slightly rough feeling and is 15 WPI. I know that it would work to do this fleece as locks but since I have others that will be better washed as locks, I will not spend the time doing this fleece that way. Romney cards up nicely also, and this length of fiber works well in the carder. The whole reason for doing the lock washing samples was to decide the final way to process each of the fleeces. The lock and yarn in the lower part of the photo is from a Cormo border Leicester breed. I bought this fleece because I have loved fleeces from this shepherd in the past, and because I loved the color of the fleece. The longer length of the lock made me think it would be a good candidate for lock spinning and it did make a nice 12 WPI yarn. However the feel of the yarn is a bit rough, because lock spinning is basically worsted style spinning. This creates a tighter yarn, which makes any scratchy fibers stick out, creating the rougher feel to the yarn. For this reason, I have decided that this fleece will be washed in my regular method and drum carded into big fluffy batts for spinning a lofty yarn that will hopefully feel a bit softer. The last two lock samples are shown next:
The top lock is from a corriedale fleece. Look at the length of that lock! And with that length, spinning it from the lock was super easy and fun. The yarn is 16 WPI with a slightly fuzzy look to it. My only complaint is the color. It's off white, with a yellow cast, and I would not like the yarn in it's natural color. So this fleece will be dyed. Now that I know spinning from a lock works well, I still have many options. I could wash the locks in the mesh like I did for this study, and then pop them into many different dyes, like in mason jars, coming up with many locks of many colors. Or I could wash the fleece less carefully, and comb the fiber on my large combs, pulling off top. This will give me a similar type yarn to this sample. I would then spin the yarn and dye it later. The bottom lock in the photo is from a cormo. The lock is small and tightly crimped and full of lanolin. I had concerns that it would not wash well in this method, but was surprised to find that the lock was not as sticky as I expected. There was more waste on the combs when I opened up the locks than I expected, so I'd lose fiber to the combing, something to be aware of when I plan my final project. But once I had the lock opened, it spun so nicely, and made a lovely soft 20 WPI yarn. This fleece would not do well with any other processing, and although it's going to be very time consuming to wash this fleece with the mesh method, I plan to do it, and then spin a soft yarn from the locks. It may seem strange to put spinning from the lock and from the fold in the same study. My logic is that really the process is close enough, although I agree the yarns are totally different. To spin from a lock, you open the lock by combing and then with your fingers tease fibers into the drafting zone from one end of the lock, catching more fibers until the lock is gone. To spin from the fold, you fold fiber over your index finger, and tease a bit forward off the fingertip and spin from that feeding more fiber from the fold until the fiber is gone. It's that manipulation of the teasing a bit of fiber in both of them that makes me say they are similar. I did not do a video of the fold spinning, but here's a photo of the fiber folded over my finger ready to spin:
To show the difference between the yarns created by the two methods, I choose suri alpaca fiber, which usually comes in locks when you get the fiber raw. Here's a photo showing the two types of yarn, and a bit of the washed but unprepped fiber:
The top yarn was spun from the combed opened suri locks. This is the case I spoke about above because these locks did not spin well. The combing open process was hard and there was a lot of waste. And the locks are so thin and slippery they were hard to hold to comb. Then once I had opened lock fiber, it would not spin as wool locks spin. There was not that even straight line style of spinning with these locks. So the yarn is thicker, and very lumpy. The yarn on the bottom of the photo shows the same prep, I combed open the locks as best I could, and then I folded that prep over my finger and spun. The yarn is much better, less bumps and more even. Both yarns are super soft, but the top one, having it's unevenness is less so than the bottom. And this is lesson number two, although the fiber is in a lock, it's not always best to spin it in the lock method. As a final photo I want to show a yarn I spun from the fold method, from a top:
The fiber is 100% milk top, natural dyed and called 'Persimmon' It was dyed by Natchwoolie The yarn is so soft and lovely, although the same amount of top that I got only gave me 88 yards of a two ply. I'm still looking for that perfect item to make with the yarn.

No comments: