Friday, September 15, 2017

Spinning.. Wool and Alpaca

Image may contain: shoesYes, its true.  I am a spinner.  In other words I spin wool and other fibre to make yarn that can be used for all types of projects where wool is required, jumpers, socks, shawls, cowls.

My first spinning wheel came from Newcastle NSW and it used to belong to an elderly lady who passed on.  It was advertised on Gumtree as her daughters were wanting to sell it. 

It has come to a fine home and I hope I can pass this onto perhaps Shelby or Montana.

I have a second wheel now and it is an Ashford Wheel and its an antique.  It came with only one bobbin and I need to order two more bobbins so I can ply my yarn once spun.  You need more than one bobbin to carry out this task.

There is an amazing creative space in Glen Innes called "Artisans on the Glen" and the lady who runs this is an Ashford representative and I will be going to her for help in finding new bits for my ancient Ashford Wheel.

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The first job when you receive a fleece is to skirt the fleece. Usually this is done before you get the fleece but sometimes it may not be and there is always more work to do to a raw fleece.  The vegetable matter hides and its endless and so you can spend quite a while picking through and over it cleaning this off.

After skirting the fleece the fleece is scoured or washed in very hot water and soap. It is important that the water temperature between washing and rinsing are kept as close as possible to each other. I use pizza tray lids on top of the buckets to keep the temps hot.  I draw both buckets at the same time.

   Roving is a long narrow bundle of fibre created by carding with combs which can be then spun for wool.
Batts are carded hunks of fibre as it comes off a drum carder or large processing carder at woollen mills.
Hanks are a 560 yard length of skein of wool, usually wound on a niddy-noddy or a fold up skein making tool that looks a bit like a children's wooden washing line.
Knots of wool  are a 40-yard strand skein of yarn wound on a niddy-noddy that measures 2 yards in circumference and this = 80 yards.
Skein of Wool is the wool which has been wound off the spindle
Niddy-Noddy is a funny name for a very useful tool which is double-headed and is used to skein spun yarn.
The Mother of All is the entire spinning mechanism on a spinning wheel which are the maidens, flyer and bobbin.
 The Maidens (or sisters) are the two upright pieces of wood that hold the spinning apparatus in a horizontal position.
 Noils are the annoying little short fibres which are removed when combing the fleece. Later these can be mixed with other wool and carded and spun.
Dizzing takes a lot of practice.  It is a tool with a hole in the middle and you pull through the hole from the hackle to make long lengths of blended or plain roving for spinning. I use a metal key with a hole in the top for dizzing.  It works.
Staple is the 'staple length' which is the length of the raw woollen lock.
Drafting the fibre is basically stretching the fibre out combining it and making it longer for spinning.
Flyer is the u-shaped device on a treadle spinning wheel that twists the yarn.
Carders are a pair of brushes used to smooth and straighten fibres ready for dizzing into roving and spinning.  I use smaller versions and use dog brushes that are the same carding material.

I just love spinning.  I have spun nothing the last few days.  I have been busily washing as much wool as I possibly can to get it all clean and bagged into old pillowcases, labelled and ready for spinning.   It is a massive job and it takes a lot of time if you want to do it well.  Always remembering to touch wet wool as little as physically possible because it will felt.

Images @ Eminpee Fotography

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