Monday, March 05, 2012

Spinning Stash

Spinners brag about how big their fiber stash is.  Sometimes, they will even say that their fiber stash is so big that they have raw fleece that has been in their stash for months without being washed.

That is proof that they have not bothered to learn the basics of their craft.  It does not matter how they talk and brag, if a spinner stores dirty fleece for more than a couple of weeks, they do not know their craft.

If you are going to store wool for more than a couple of weeks, it should be clean.  Do not buy fleece that has sat dirty. Fleece that has soap or scouring compound residues on it is dirty.  Soap or what ever must be rinsed out of the fleece. Once the fiber is clean, it is easy to store for years. Yes, it will settle and pack and may need to be re-carded or re-combed, but it will keep well.

Wool that is being combed, carded or spun should be oiled (actually a gell of oil and soap).

After being combed, carded, or spun, the fiber prep should be scoured before extended storage

Good professional spinning practice for a thousand years has been to work with clean fleece.  Spinning in the grease does not produce as consistent or as good a yarn as can be spun from clean fiber.

Sunday, March 04, 2012

More on how I spin

Fiber gets combed, and then I diz off using a diz with a 3/32" or 1/16" hole.  

The sliver goes into a bin, and I wind it tail first on to my distaff. The sliver takes on 1 twist per wrap of the distaff, which holds it together.

I take the fiber off the distaff over its end, so it loses its twist and is ready to draft.

The sliver going into my drafting hand is much thicker than the tip of the sliver being drafted.  Tension on the sliver between my drafting hand and the distaff holds the fibers in alignment.

With the fiber approaching the drafting zone in close alignment, no "inch worm" drafting is required.  Fibers simply draft in what is very like a continuous attenuated long draw.  I use a very long drafting zone. Where there is a problem with the fiber prep, I may need to "back draft" a bit to maintain consistent grist. However, with good fiber prep, neither hand needs to move much, and the process is as fast as twist can be inserted, and the yarn wound on.  Since the maximum speed of  fliers on a treadled wheel is about 3,600 rpm, the limit for spinning 6,000 ypp  is ~ 12.5 yards per minute, and the limit for 12,000 ypp is just over 6 y/hr.  That means a good days spinning (on a flier) is about 5,000 yards per day for 6,000 ypp and 2,500 yards per day for 12,000 ypp worsted single. ( Actually, my rule of thumb is a hank (560 yards) every 2 hours regardless of grist.) If I want to go faster, I will get a motor spinner or a driven spindle.

All of this depends on having a bobbin flier assembly with the correct effective bobbin core diameter and differential rotation speed to insert the correct twist per inch of take up.

The flier/bobbin assemblies as they came from Amos had a differential rotation speed (DRS) of ~ 1.15 for spinning long draw woolen.  I made new bobbins with DRS in the range of 1.07 to 1.01 for spinning fine worsted singles.

This approach results in a very high quality worsted yarn, and it is very fast.  With well prepped fiber, 2,000 yards per day of 12,000 ypp worsted singles is easy.

The technique is easy, but you need to plan your tools to make it work.  

Oh, and I have moved to using grease rather than oil on my flier/bobbin assemblies. Grease stands up to the speeds I am spinning at better than oil.   I still use oil on the drive wheel and crank.

Thursday, March 01, 2012

A finer flyer

Last night Stephene Gaustad delivered a new #0 flier from Alden Amos.

The bobbin has this morning's play on it.  Note where the single crosses the dime.  I think not bad for ordinary fiber with an ordinary prep.

This is a flier that takes Romney fleece and turns it into frog hair.  I swore that I would never use that term, but there it is.  I guess I have "cobweb" on the brain today.

Will this flier spin finer than the Alden Amos  #1 production flier?  Stephenie tests both by spinning 40,000 ypp singles on them before they get packed for shipment, so Alden will not promise that either flier will spin finer than 40,000 ypp, but yes, this flier will spin finer.

However, for  spinning a lot of 11,000 ypp singles in a day, the #1 production flier is the tool of choice.  For situations where I need to spin very fine, this is the tool of choice.