Saturday, November 8, 2008

Spinning in the Grease

I started a two-day spinning workshop at the Tail-Spinner yarn shop in Richlands, NC. This is a great little yarn shop filled with beautiful lush yarns and tons of roving for the spinner. Roving ranges from Corriedale to Merino to Romney to Buffalo and Angora Rabbit (which the owner, Linda Davis, raises herself with her son). I learned a great deal this weekend, including the history of spinning and about various types of fiber, animal and vegetable. We were given pencil roving to practice basic spinning and treadling. We then practiced carding Romney wool on our new hand carders, then spun it onto our wheels. My spinning wheel is now jealous of Linda's wheels because they all have names. I didn't admit that my wheel has been with me since June and is still nameless. I have to go do my homework now which consists of carding the rest of my wool samples before tomorrow's lesson. And, of course, my camera batteries expired as soon as I got to the shop today. I'll recharge them tomorrow and post pictures of the shop.
Spinning in the grease is a term used to mean that instead of washing a fleece prior to spinning it, you spin it with the lanolin still intact. Linda stated that it is her favorite way to spin and it makes it easier to draft into the spinner. When you pre-wash, you run the risk of the wool's felting itself slightly and making it harder to draft. Drafting is a term which refers to the spinner pulling the wool apart gradually as it's being fed into the spinning wheel. This puts air between the fibers and makes it a loftier yarn. It also allows more light to penetrate the fibers which is good for color and shine.
So, anyway, we spun in the grease today and it is definitely a different feel. For one thing, you can feel the lanolin. This is not quite sticky, but does give your palms a nice lubricated feeling. No dry palms when you spin in the grease! The smell is also nice, at least I think so. It has a nice earthy, not unpleasant animal smell. I've found that the olfactory sense if also involved with knitting. I love to pick up new wool and smell it. It's a nice feeling to think that you're not so removed from the wool you're spinning or knitting that the factory hasn't removed all identification of the animal from it.
Day 2: I had sat up late carding the rest of my Corriedale wool. I finished the birds nests sitting in my car waiting for class. To make the birds nest, prepare the roving from your carders, then draft into a workable piece. Wrap this around and around your hand so that it looks like an airy birds nest. This is used to pull from in spinning.
We spun for a while, then Linda introduced the drum carder. We were given various pieces of dyed Corriedale to play with. This was surprisingly easy and fun; too bad they're so expensive. A drum carder pictured here pulls the wool apart and into smooth roving. You can either feed the wool into the drum from underneath or lay pieces on top while turning the crank. The drums pull on each other with their wires and separate the wool.
We also practiced plying today. Linda gave me a bobbin with white wool already spun to go with my "in the grease" wool. It was different from what I'm used to trying on my own, but was much more effective. I'm happy with the results which are now upstairs drying and hanging.
I'm including pictures of the felt pieces by Melissa Gray which are on display in the Tail-Spinner. Melissa teaches classes at the shop. She has won awards in various parts of the country for her work. These pictures don't do them justice. This is another have-to-do class for me sometime in the near future, I hope. All in all a wonderful learning experience that I would recommend highly to anyone who wishes to learn to spin.
Click to play Spinning Lessons
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C.R. Evers said...

I love how you learn all this stuff. I could see me getting into this kind of thing one day.

Great pictures!


Craft Write said...

I'd be glad to teach you anytime.