People are usually taught (and books usually say) to spin singles Z and ply S.
However, you can and might want to consider the end-use for your yarn and the technique you’re going to use to get there.
Crochet prefers the final twist direction to be Z, since it adds Z twist to a yarn. So, if you were to take a final S twist yarn and crochet it, you’d be taking twist out ... and if it were singles, this could be a mess if the yarn then drafted apart again.
Knitting depends: British/throw-style knitting typically adds Z twist and German/Continental/pick-style knitting usually adds S twist. If you are doing twined knitting, your two strands will wrap around each other too ... no spinning style I know of can conquer that, except perhaps one of those yarn-ball-wrist-holder thingies that might let the ball unwind as you go, if you are working your Tvåändsstickning from both ends (grin). But I did note that S singles, Z ply is the recommended yarn for that method of knitting.
I’ve heard that in weaving, if you weave with warp yarn with final twist S and your weft yarn with final twist Z, you get an interesting surface light reflection effect (good interesting, not odd interesting) though most of the weavers I know spin all the yarn for a project one way for both warp and weft.
Nalbinders tend to disagree ... I used Z twist and did well with that, as my stitch technique added Z twist, but others report their technique adds S twist.
Now, for Kumihimo, Embroidery, Needlepoint, Cross-stitch, free lace, bobbin lace, hairpin lace, Tunisian crochet ... I’m afraid you’re on your own ;-)
The two full bobbins above are an interesting study ... the top one is spun Z, the second one is spun S. Why'd I do that with the same fiber? All part of a ply experiment, for the "hemi-cable" yarn shown here.
ETA: You can tell the top is spun Z because the plied-back sample plies back S (the slant on the plying twist matches the middle bar of the letter S). And the lower is spun S, as the plied-back sample plies back Z -- the slant of the plying twist there matches the middle bar of the letter Z.
The yarn is spun from Three Bags Full Turquoise roving, spun S, plied Z with turquoise thread strung with real copper beads, and then plied S on another strand of Z-spun Turquoise. Whew!
If you've found direction of spin helpful in your fibery pursuits, I'd love to hear about it, especially if you can enlighten me about spinning for embroidery and the other methods. Thanks!
Thursday, April 17, 2008
People are usually taught (and books usually say) to spin singles Z and ply S.
Wednesday, April 16, 2008
Also I've restocked Natalie Spindles (wheee) and the favorite miniature sock blockers, in baltic plywood and exotics.
In an if you can't beat them, join them moment, I've listed almost my entire inventory of books (54 titles!) from The Bellwether on Amazon; almost all are low price, many below my wholesale payment ... so grab a deal and help me clear the shelves! If you want to order there and the regular website, please note it on your regular website order and I'd be happy to combine shipping and provide a total combined shipping amount. I plan to continue stocking core books to be able to offer them to new spindlers and spinners moving forward ... and have several non-ISBN books (like the Nalbinding series) that I'll continue to carry as well!
For those of you who missed the first round of Ring Your Bells! The Bellwether's Fabulous Fiber Club, I'm happy to let you know that I've checked inventory, talked to Joan about fiber, and will be able to open 8 more slots Monday April 21st for the four months remaining in the first club session. They'll be available on the website Monday at 9 a.m. Pacific Time. Details should be available there later today. We've had great fun with the first month, and I've just shipped out the second month to the current members - yay!
If you haven't checked out the Felting section, be sure to see the great kits from Crosspatch Creations and The Bellwether! For Needlefelters, Machine felters, Crocheters, and more!
Stay updated -- subscribe to the whole blog for regular spinning tips and news, SpinTips for links to spinning tips I find on the internet, or Bellefeathers for the Bellefeathers newsletter (for Bellefeathers by email use this link). Thanks, and happy spinning and felting!
In the Spinning Slipper Fibers Workshop, we spin the slippery stuff -- fibers without wool scales to help them hold together. Join me to explore some really "out there" spinning fibers ... with a life vest on!
There are a whole bunch of fibers we might play with ~~ silk, bamboo, mohair, llama and more! Feel free to bring your own slippery fibers for advice, too!
Taught next: Monday, April 28th, 10:30-12:00 at A Dropped Stitch in Sequim, WA. $20 for class and materials. Call the shop at (360)683-1410 to reserve a spot.
Participant level: ability to spin a steady single and balanced ply (with wool).
Participants need to bring: wheel, 3 empty bobbins, lazy kate, scissors, pencil/pen, paper for notes.
Topics covered include
- It's the twist
- Teach your wheel, teach your hands
- Checking for drift
- Plying techniques
See you there!
Tuesday, April 15, 2008
The Hitchhiker Wheel is a compact spinning wheel made by The Merlin Tree and also available at several of the larger spinning suppliers ... Woodland Woolworks in Oregon, The Woolery in North Carolina, and others. Besides its small size (it fits in a large tote bag!) it is unique in having direct drive ... there is no drive band!
Because I recently helped a friend sell one, I ended up making these videos in lieu of written instructions.
Since there's more than one person out there with a Hitchhiker, and perhaps those looking to buy it on-line in their wheel search, perhaps this can help more people. So here it is for you ... Hitchhiker Instructions.
Assembling the flyer, part 1
Putting the flyer onto the Hitchhiker (see part 2 ... you're not actually ready to spin once this is done)
Assembling the flyer, part 2
After putting the flyer on, attach the brake band to the bobbin. *Then* you are ready to spin :-)
As my daughter noted, I obscured the picture when I drew the leader on the bobbin through the orifice of the wheel. The orifice is the metal tube at the front of the flyer; there's a hole in the top of it and at the (working) end ... you put the hook through from the end to the top, grab the leader yarn, and pull it through.
Maintenance: oil the flyer spindle shaft
I didn't take a video of this ... the main point to oil is the spindle on the flyer -- the metal rod that the bobbin rotates on. Beyond that, look for rotating or bendy parts that may need oil. If it squeaks, try some oil. Don't oil the ratio-wheels, they are fixed on the metal rod and need to be dry to get traction on the main spinning wheel.
Changing the ratio
The Hitchhiker comes with 3 ratios; these are changed by changing the little wheel that sits on the shaft below the flyer assembly. This is done with the flyer removed, see separate videos on that step.
Removing the flyer, part 1
Step one to take the flyer off, is simply to remove the drive band. See step 2 for the rest ...
Removing the flyer, part 2
Once the brake band is off (part 1), you unscrew the flyer and put it in the hole on the foot-treadle for storage.
I'd note that I do not cover how to spin on the Hitchhiker ... in this, it is much like other wheels. There are great videos and books out there on that topic, and if you can find a local guild or mentor, that's even better!
Re books ... I've heard really good things about Start Spinning by Maggie Casey, though I don't have it (yet!). I learned with Hands On Spinning by Lee Raven, another good book for learning. The best video is Patsy Zawitowski's Spinning Wool - Basics & Beyond ... her presentation matches pretty much how I run my learn-to-spin class (and I didn't even watch it until a student asked me what I thought of it and loaned me her copy!) If you are mathematical, I'd also recommend Mabel Ross's Essentials of Handspinning; if you are more the free spirit type, then Creative Spinning by Daykin and Deane is a good learn-to-spin plus dive into creative yarns book.
Find a local guild if you can ... their experience is priceless, and if you sit next to some-one at a spin-in, they can't help but pass along advice, even if they claim not to know how to teach (that's been my experience here). Or, a wool show if there's no guild.
If you'd like more information on the Hitchhiker wheel, Google turns up a few good blog entries as well as vendor pages on the search "merlin tree hitchhiker".
Wednesday, April 9, 2008
Spin a Fine Yarn is also called Lace, Anyone?.
This is the first class in the Spinning III Series, it is followed by Spinning Slippery Fibers and Constructing Yarns.
Next workshop: Monday, April 14, 10:30 - 12:00, at A Dropped Stitch in Sequim (call them at 360-683-1410 to register). $20 includes materials, or $45 for the whole Spinning III series; the other classes are at 2 week intervals, April 28 (Spinning Slippery Fibers) and May 12 (Constructing Yarns).
In this workshop we will cover:
• Making your wheel do the work
• Preparation is everything
• Fiber is everything
• Spinning a fine single
• Plying tips
Participants can bring fibers they want advice on; materials are included in the workshop price.
Participants need to be able to spin a consistent single; they need to bring a wheel and three bobbins (spindle spinners also welcome ... bring your lightest spindle and one other), notepaper, and pen.
Wheel spinners ... please leave your WooLee Winder at home for this class, put your regular flyer on your wheel. If you have more than one flyer whorl, bring the others.
If you have cotton cards or fine wool cards, bring them as well.
This blog has featured past posts on Spinning Fine Yarn, so for those of you who can't make it, let me refer you to:
~ How do I use the Ratio on my Spinning Wheel?
~ How can I Spin Fine Yarn?
How can I Spin Sock Yarn?
~ How fine do I spin my singles to get a target WPI in my plied yarn?
~ How do you ply fine singles?
A really great article by tnwevr, on her blog Fiber Life, Spinning Frog Hair and Hamster Floss.
Tuesday, April 8, 2008
There are at least three factors that affect the thickness of your plied yarn.
First, if you want a thicker plied yarn, you can increase the number of plies. The picture here shows exactly the same single (spun from CVM top) in, from bottom to top: a balanced 2-ply, balanced 3-ply, balanced 4-ply and balanced 5-ply.
If you look closely, you'll notice that the 3-ply seems almost as tight as the 2-ply. In part, that's because a balanced 3-ply from the same single as a 2-ply will end up with a steeper twist angle, i.e., it's more tightly ply-twisted, so it squeezes in the singles a bit more. If I were actually spinning for a 3-ply, then, I might use less twist, so my 3-ply twist angle would be similar to my 2-ply's twist angle, and thus get a thicker 3-ply yarn (see method 2).
In general, the more plies, the thicker your plied yarn. How do you ply more than 2 strands? For 3 strands, you can run each one between the fingers of your hand to control them (4 fingers = 3 gaps). For more, it's a bit more of a wrangling session, but you can run two strands through finger-gaps so you have 4 or 5 running up (or more!) and then use the other hand to keep them plying together.
But, really, who wants to keep adding plies? I would hazard to guess that you want a thicker plied yarn, and you don't want to take even longer to get to it than your default two- or three-plying.
So, let's move on to the second way to get a thicker yarn. This one is interesting to contemplate (and do! but more on that in a second). See the picture?
What I did here was put less twist in the thicker yarn. Both singles have exactly the same amount of fiber drafted into the yarn as twist enters. In both, but more closely monitored in the thicker one, I'm spinning without squeezing the yarn -- a "modified woolen" technique (since to be pure woolen, I'd need to be using roving and potentially actually doing real long draw ... u-huh. I wanted to make this do-able!)
So, I'm doing two things here to get the 2-ply thicker: spinning woolen-style, i.e., not squeezing the newly spun yarn just pinching to draft fiber from the combed top, then releasing to let twist up, and re-pinching to draft more out. And I'm putting in less twist.
How do you put in less twist? On a wheel ... treadle slower, or move to a larger flyer whorl (or both!). On a spindle ... twist your spindle at a thicker part of the shaft, or rotate it more slowly (if you thigh roll, try a finger-flick, which is usually slower).
Up to now, I've always drafted the same amount out ... my "default draft" if you like. However, the most obvious way to get a thicker plied yarn might be this third technique: draft more fiber into your yarn.
The picture shows the balanced-two plies resulting from having thicker singles. At the bottom is the default size from before, and moving up each one, I've drafted out more roving (thicker drafting triangle) for the twist to move into so that the singles are thicker.
How do you draft out more fiber? I've noticed that many, many spinners have a default amount of fiber they draft. When I teach people to spin thicker yarns, I start by handing them pencil roving and have them spin without drafting at all. Almost everyone stumbles at this ... they automatically fall into drafting by default! But with focus and practice, they can control their hands and stop the drafting.
This is an extreme, however -- once you can spin without drafting, then you can attempt to spin while drafting less -- leaving more fiber in your drafting triangle to become yarn.
With a wheel, you can also change its settings to help your automatic drafting contain more yarn in the drafting triangle: increase draw-in by increasing the tension on the drive band, and for scotch-tension or irish-tension wheels, increase the tension on the brake band as well. This will make the fiber move out of your hand more quickly, giving you less time to draft.
Moving to a larger whorl also helps you draft out more fiber in a larger drafting triangle, since to make yarn at a slower speed, you need a wider diameter yarn.
On a spindle, use a heavier spindle and spin it more slowly to encourage a larger drafting triangle.
Whew! Got all that?
I'd love to hear if you try any of these, and how they work for you. We so often think about spinning thicker singles, but seldom consider how to spin thicker plied yarns. If there's something you do to spin thicker plied yarns, I'd love to hear so I can try it too!
Thanks, and happy spinning!
Saturday, April 5, 2008
... also known as, Drum Carding for Spinners and Felters.
Have a drum carder but find it unapproachable? Want to try out some new carding techniques but not sure where to start? Bring your drum carder and learn how to make terrific batts and roving for your next spinning or felting project.
You need to bring: your own drum carder, doffer pin and cleaning brush, notepad and pen.
Taught at Oregon Flock and Fiber, September 2008. For a great set of pictures, see them on my flickr set Get Batty.
We’ll start with basic drum carding of a clean batt of wool, then move on to fiber blends, color blends, texture blends, and self-striping batts.
Bring any fibers you’d like advice with or to share.
Class and materials fee (taught directly): $40. Fees at shows depend on the show's basis.
Participants need to bring their own drum carder. If you have additional tools for your carder, bring them -- doffer pin, cleaning brush or flicker, seasoning brush or handcarder.
See my full list of workshops here. This workshop is great to combine with a half-day workshop on Spinning Batts for a full day workshop.
Let's get Batty!