Saturday, August 30, 2014


When I started spinning, I wanted certain yarns.

I saw that certain skills and certain tools were required.

I set myself a group of evolutions to learn the skills.

I bought tools, and modified them to make the yarns I wanted.

Together the tools and skills allow me to spin fine and fast.  They allow me to make the yarns that I want on a practical basis. I spin "lace" weight singles at 600 or 700 yards per hour. (These are actually for weaving and 5-ply.  When spinning lace, I spin more carefully and slower.)  I can sit down with Romney fiber and spin  40s (150 wpi/ 22,000 ypp / 45 meters/gram) at more than 300 yards per hour.  This is not bragging, it is a report of results.  I can sit down with the cheap, flock run 56 count American wool right out of the shipping box (from Halcyon Yarns) and spin 30,000 ypp worsted singles at a couple of hundred yards per hour.  I know the fiber, I just finished spinning 28,000 yards (16 miles) of  10s (75 wpi) from it.  I can do this anywhere.  I can do this in front of a courtroom with trial  judge and jury watching.  I can do it in the Ravelry Corporate Offices. I do it at guild meetings. The accelerator wheel that I had at CNCH last spring was about 40% slower.

This is not about me, it is about a set of skills and a set of tools.  Anyone with the skills and tools can spin that fine and that fast.  These skills and tools were common 300 years ago.

If you do not have the tools and skills, that is not my fault, do not blame me. On the other hand, I believe in picking my teachers with care and my students with more care.

In my evolution on spinning finer, I pushed to the finest yarns that can be spin from wool. There is a lot of practical and theoretical science on the topic.  Once you understand the physics, it is just a matter of  making the tools.  You need DRS set for 35 tpi.  That will actually meet the needs of spinning 7 staple bundles, which is about as fine as wool will tolerate. Finer than that and the wool fibers kink and break before they get enough twist friction to hold together.  Do not worry, you can win Longest Thread and set a new world's record with singles that average 7 or 8  staples in the singles.  If someone tells you that they spin singles of only 5 staples, ask to see a sample and examine it with your microscope, and count the staples.  All textile artists need a microscope.

With good tools and skills, singles comprised of a bundle of 20 staples can be produced quickly and easily. That fact was the basis of wool grading and trading. It defined spin count.  Every competent spinner could spin wool at its spin count at a commercial rate. Commercial rate was much faster than most modern spinners dream is possible.

Practical yarn needs to be produced at a useful rate, so I made my wheel faster.  When I started spinning, folks told me it was not feasible to spin 5-ply gansey yarn.  They were ignorant, and they paraded their ignorance. With my wheel, these days, it only takes ~ 7 hours to spin and ply 500 yards of gansey yarn that is MUCH better than the mill spin. I did not need to buy a power mini-mill for the little bit of yarn that I want.  If you spin 4 hours per evening, you can spin the yarn for a gansey in a week. I am not bragging, I am saying what reasonably can be spun.  Some people do not want to spin that fast.  I do not care how fast they spin.  I want to get it spun, and knitted.

Spinners who do not have the appropriate skills and tools try to make this about me and say that I have a bad personality or psychological problems.  I am a nerd, a geek, and that about sums it up. Those skills and traits helped me find and follow a path to faster and finer spinning.   I chose to learn to spin fine and fast.  Others chose not to learn those skills.  That is not my problem.

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