Thursday, July 11, 2013

One Yarn Project.

About spring thaw, I went  looking to buy a loom, and visited a loom dealer that had put a loom aside for me. We ended up sitting in the back of my truck with her poking through a bin of my knitting swatches. She said, "Dang!, These are unbelievable! We need to take these up to the house. You know he was a great knitter."

He pawed through them, and said, " Kinda grubby!  No hand spun here!"  Thus, was born the hand spun gloves project.

I chose the knitting tools, and sampled hand spun yarns from the stash. No joy. I  made up samples of  other possible yarns from hand spun singles in the stash.

      No Joy.

I then took some Rambouillet :
 washed it with soap flakes and borax,

 and blended it on my Clems carder with some navy blue combed Romney from a gansey yarn project to produce a lavender color way with white neps for accent.  This is my first "art yarn" (neps!). The Rambouillet makes it soft, the Romney gives it good wear at the finger tips.  Over all the blend gives reasonable wear without being too harsh.

The bats are sprayed with spinning oil, torn into lengths, and wound on my distaff to facilitate spinning. I spin singles at 4,800 ypp (9s) using the spinning technique shown in videos on this blog, )
but with the gang whorls on the flier.  

My typical spinning wheel bobbin rotation speed as measured with a digital tachometer is 2,300 rpm. Compare that to the 800 rpm that a stock Ashord Traddy can do.  Even with a lace flyer, Ashfords do not go much faster than 1,400 rpm. Most espinners are limited to 1,600 rpm.  Twist is DRS controlled to just over  8 tpi.  Net spinning rate is around 300 yards per hour. I note that there is nothing on my wheel that a 15th century spinner in Flanders could not have had. I very much doubt if I spin as fast as the spinners in Bruges, 500 years ago.  Over all,  "spinning" is a tiny part of the project.

I am sure that I do not spin as well as the spinners in Bruges, 500 years ago.   They were trained pros with elan.

Singles are wound off onto reels using an electric drill to drive the reel, washed (with shampoo),  dried (blocked), and then wound onto smaller plying bobbins. Singles with spinning oil on them need to be washed within a month. Last fall when I was working with hanks of fines, I  found wet skeins to be problematic, and moved to washing singles on reels. I made enough reels that I can wash and dry singles faster than I can spin them.

Once the yarn is clean (and loosely wound) on a plying bobbin it can be stored.  I have many yarn storage/plying bobbins.

Current plying technique is to put the plying bobbins on a bobbin rack or lazy Kate, feed the singles through my tension box, and ply with the same gang whorl flyer as used to produce the singles.  If I was making gansey yarn, I would use the Ashford jumbo flyer so that I could produce knot free, 8 oz hanks.  However, the (smaller) high speed flier is much faster and  each glove only requires ~2 oz of yarn in 5 pieces, so smaller yarn packages are acceptable.

The full plying train of Lazy Kate,          Tension Box,  and                            Wheel with high speed flier.

A tension box used on blocked singles really is an advance on Alden's Four Great Principles of Plying. Tension boxes are simple to make, and worth their weight in hand spun yarn.

The finished yarn is wound off the wheel with  a cake winder, to produce :

3/4 ounce of 1,500 ypp, 3-ply,  glove yarn
(~70 yards)
Knit, the color matches the lavender buds I was putting in the wool bins at the start of the project, and which inspired the color for this yarn. It is warm, durable, and comfortable.

The swaving pricks are the same 1.5 mm used for the cotton sock fabric in the last post. The semi worsted yarn knits easily at 12 to 14 spi. to make an elastic fabric.  Yarn for final objects will likely get a final  blocking with steam. 

Final objects will get washed again.


Badger said...

Well, Aaron, I'm stunned speechless. I read your latest post most carefully. I looked at your video. Ok, sorta fine-ish yarn, but nothing to marvel at. I looked at the singles on the blocking reel photos. That yarn is thicker than the yarn you spun in the video - not a super-fine yarn at all, especially since the end-product will be three plies.

Then I looked at the yarn "cake" photo. I expected to see a very fine, perfectly-balanced yarn, based on your claims to be able to spin the same, and what I saw was a dk weight yarn with significant tangles indicating that the yarn was either overspun or overplied. I wasn't able to enlarge the photo to the extent where I could identify where the problem was, I'm afraid. Had the yarn been balanced, the "cake," as you call it, would have been smooth and uniform. Instead what I see in that photo is what I would expect from a beginning spinner who has much to learn. An good first effort at sock-weight yarn. You'll improve with practice, but you're no expert spinner by a far, far piece.

Aaron said...

Dear Badger,

I have to admit this was not an honest post. It was a test for you; and you flunked.

When plying blocked singles, the resulting yarn is always twist active, and must be blocked! This was acknowledged in my "soft voice" statement that "the yarn may have to be blocked before use". After plying, that yarn has 8 tpi of ply bias! Enough information was in the post for you to make that determination, but you seem not able to do yarn twist math.

Many modern spinners disdain yarn math, but it is part of the skill set that define the craft of spinning.

The goal was not to spin as fine as possible. The goal was to make excellent glove yarn on time, and on budget.

After a final blocking, the yarn makes very nice gloves. When was the last time you knit a pair of very nice gloves from hand spun?

You should go somewhere else to be condescending. I give you openings to make intelligent comments and you pass them by.


Anonymous said...


I hope you don't mind me calling you Aaron. I have been following your blog and you are clearly passionate about your fiber activities.

I feel constrained to ask you, is there any possibility that there are people who have greater knowledge and experience that if you could bring yourself to consider could enhance your knowledge and expertise and indeed your enjoyment of your hobby.

I only ask this because it seems to me that you do not countenance any information or opinion that is even slightly different to your own. I find that curious and a little sad because it means you are a missing so many opportunities broaden your horizons.

Aaron said...

I swore not to publish any more comments by "Anonymous", but . . .

Alden Amos is a great spinner and the Big Blue Book could hold only a tiny fraction of this knowledge. When asked the correct questions, his answers are brilliant.

I read something in the Big Blue Book, test it, and say, "this works". Then everyone comments as you did.

I broaden my horizons by looking at other sources. I do look to people that have greater knowledge and experience. Then, I test each point.

What you miss is that I really did listen to people like "Badger" very carefully. I tested her approaches. I discarded them in favor of other approaches that work better for me.

I learn from others. I test. I say, "This is what works for me." I do not recite things that I try, and which do not work for me.

The stuff Badger and her kind say, do not work for me as well as the stuff that Alden Amos says.

Anonymous said...

That's very interesting Aaron. Do you mind me asking what you mean by Badger and her kind? Do you mean spinners or do you mean women?

It would be helpful for me to know so that I don't waste time when looking for help.

Many thanks

Aaron said...

I mean textile crafts (persons) who are so certain that are better than I am that they are condescending, when they have not looked at my current projects and my goals.

I really can spin wool at 45,000 ypp, but I still ask questions about spinning fine. Some think that such questions imply ignorance and incompetence. In my case, they mean that I want to spin better.