Sunday, January 12, 2014

Re-learning to Spin

I decided that my next spinning project would be going back to basics and re-learning how to spin.  I was wondering why I was continually doing certain things that I did not like.  As we all know there's no wrong way to spin (unless you're not making yarn) - just like there's no wrong way to knit (as long as you are making stitches that form into fabric).  However, if you don't like it - then its not right for you.

What I didn't like:

1) It takes me months to spin up 4 ounces of roving.  Why can other spinner's spin skeins and skeins in a month??  I spend hours and hours spinning, get discouraged at the lack of progress and then let it sit untouched for weeks at a time.  I often just get plain sick of looking at the same fiber for this extended period of time.

2) Its uncomfortable and frustrating - I am constantly fighting with fiber, treadling way too fast and racing against my feet to draft.  My legs get tired, my back hurts and I feel frustrated and annoyed when I am spinning.

What I realized:

1) I spin way too thin - that's fine if that's what I wanted.  But with an overwhelming stash I am looking for quantity here and I am also looking to expand my skills to spin different weights of yarn.

2) I really do a half-a*%$^ job pre-drafting.  Pre-drafting is not an absolute necessity, but it is if you are trying to learn and want to make things easier on yourself.  It makes it easier to draft when spinning, especially if you are like me and something has been in your stash for 2 years.  It also allows you to get to know the fiber before spinning it.

3) I over spin everything.  Sometimes the finished yarn feels like twine, there are coils in the singles that I either go past or spend too much time undoing while plying.  The singles get all tangled up on each other when plying because they are crazy energized.

4) I treadle way too fast.  Everyone has their own comfortable speed - this is not comfortable.  And its not necessarily just too fast, I increase over time, its not consistent.

I took this beautiful fiber out of my stash to work with.  Its English Shetland Combed Top from Into the Whirled.  It has a long staple length and a beautiful preparation.  I split it in half and pre-drafted one half entirely about four times the thickness of the final singles I wanted.  I spent about 2 hours on the first bobbin.  Unbelievable!  I am spinning it thicker than I usually spin - on purpose - but I am also being conscious to not over spin it.

What I learned:

1) Slow down your feet!!  This is not Speed, the wheel is not attached to a bomb that will blow if you decrease below your typical maniacal treadling speed.

2) Take breaks or just stop for the day.  Its better to spin more frequently, but for small periods of time.  Just like any muscle memory task.  For now I am finding that 1/2 hour sessions are working well.

3) Stop and review - check the singles frequently to make sure that they are consistent and not getting too thin.  Also check that its not getting over-spun - this can easily be fixed by stopping and drafting out more fiber to take up the twist built up in little coils.

4) Check your feet - pay attention and count off frequently to make sure the feet aren't going faster and faster and faster.  By the third session I could actually stop paying attention and I was maintaining a consistent treadling.

5) Take your time and pre-draft!!!

There's still one tiny bit that has the over spun coils in it in the middle there - when I stopped focusing and was watching something on the computer.  But all in all pretty consistent and spun well.

I solved all of my problems.  At this current rate I could easily finish a skein in a week.  I am not frustrated or causing back pain.  Its nice and calm and fun - what spinning is supposed to be!  They are all things that I know and have heard time and time again, but I just wasn't applying them for some reason.  Now I just have to remember and apply all of these things when I spin.


Anonymous said...

You need to get ZEN with your spinning. Slow down, breath in ---breath out --- ZEN! That's what I do when I find myself whipping through my knitting. Then the stitches aren't quite as nice as they could be.

Slow is good. LOL

Melanie said...

Love the colors on this! :)
If I could fit another hobby into my life I would totally learn how to spin. Alas, one can only do so much, right? *sniff*

kathy b said...

Maybe I'll grow some bunnies. That seems to be the easy part

Wanderingcatstudio said...

I don't spin - but I think Dee has it - When I watch people spin, it's almost like they are meditating. (It's hypnotic to watch too)
And from what I understand... it's harder to spin fine instead of thick too! So you've already mastered something!

Caitlin @ Naughts Cross Stitches said...

that looks awesome! I wish I had the time or the wish to spin.