The Northwest Regional Spinner's Conference was held at the Pinelow Retreat by Deer Lake in eastern Washington this year -- a quiet, peaceful place to have a conference. Yes, we had a little rain; and cell-phone reception required a patch of sky; but then again, there was WiFi, and good eats.
In the evenings, I spun two different yarns ... on my bottom-whorl spindle, I was using Andean speed-plying. On my SpinOlution Hopper, I spun an auto-wrapped single.
As with all things, the speed-plying improved as I worked my way through. If you learn this technique in a class, give it a spindle-full afterwards -- you will find the motions coming more naturally, and may find it a more efficient, effective way to ply. I certainly did!
Speed-plying requires a pre-wound plying ball, and a bottom-whorl or mid-whorl spindle. You set the spindle twirling by rolling the top part of the shaft between the flats of your hands. There's a YouTube video of Abby Franquemont performing this here, and the technique is included in my book, Productive Spindling. Since twist enters it quickly, you want the pre-wound ball so you can feed more yarn into the twist once the spindle is twirling.
The auto-wrapping was interesting, because I started with the method described in Intertwined, but adapted it for my thread. The silver metallic thread I was using had a tendency to jump up and leave stiff loops hanging off the yarn if I left the cone sitting untended to wrap the yarn; it really needed some light tensioning to make the thread behave a bit more calmly. So, I moved the thread a little closer to me to be under my hand, and let the thread lay across my palm. I didn't put any pressure on it, just let it feed up and wrap around the newly drafted single as I was spinning and drafting. All-in-all, it was a nice result with just enough freedom of movement of the thread for wrapping to vary along the length.
Both the plying and the autowrapping came much easier toward the end of the four ounces involved in each. A great reminder that part of gaining skill is practice!
Spinning in the evenings wasn't my only activity. I also had a "full load" of classes to teach; three of them you can purchase as e-tutorials at askthebellwether.com:
- Exotic Fiber Spindling -- featherweight and Akha spindles with lovely exotic fibers: alpaca, cashmere, camel, yak, and more.
- Core Spinning -- we delved into ways to make balanced core-spun yarn as well as exploring different core materials. The picture here is from the Medallion Scarf pattern in the e-tutorial, using the core yarn as garter stitch medallions at each end of the scarf.
- Spinning Slippery Fibers -- a wheel (and spindle) spinning class looking at the common needs of slippery fibers: superwash, mohair, alpaca, silk, bamboo, angora, cashmere, and others.
These were great fun to teach, and I look forward to feedback and questions from both my in-class students and folks who give the e-booklets a spin!
© June 12, 2010 by Ask The Bellwether, posted at http://askthebellwether.com/blog