Monday, June 19, 2006

Purple Haze

Anna asked some questions in the comments for the last post about the storage bobbin process, so I must need to clarify my process.

First, of course, I start with the roving.

I spin that up into singles. This time, I spun on my Lendrum, which (for those who don't know) doesn't have hooks, but has a sliding loopy thing (you can see it clearly here - the white thing at the top slides back and forth fairly easily). I do have a Woolee Winder for my Lendrum, but it doesn't have the ratios I wanted for this particular yarn, so I went with the Lendrum fast flyer. That makes it sound like I was really picky and scientific, but the last thing I spun was sock yarn, then when I went to spin this, I picked a ratio at random and liked what I got.

Once I've got the singles, I wind them onto storage bobbins. I have a bobbin winder (a gift from my often too generous husband, but if a guy's gonna have a fault...) but you can make one cheaply, or buy them off e-bay regularly for under $30. I got my storage bobbins off e-bay too, they're "antique" (big woop) and I got 25 for under $20 or so. You can get them from Halcyon for around a buck each, give or take... E-Bay or Halcyon, you wanna check the weaving section. As you see in the past pictures, I'm pretty good at loading a bobbin, so I don't use the storage bobbins to balence my uneven packing, but to allow me to mix the yarn more completely. For one thing, some folks really notice a difference in bobbins - I have one bobbin that drives me bonkers - and using storage bobbins allows me to spin a whole project on only one bobbin. It also allows me to mix darker sections of the roving more easily with lighter ones, by breaking up a full bobbin's worth of singles into (in this case) four smaller parts. Plus, twenty five real bobbins would have required me selling my husband, and then I'd lose out on all the cool gifts. So I fill a bobbin, wind it onto storage bobbins (keeping track of the order in which they were spun), and repeat as needed.
Just like shampoo. Only different.

When I've got all the singles spun and on the storage bobbins, I set them up so I'm plying oldest to newest. I set it up with enough storage bobbins so that I can move onto another when one runs out, with enough to fill the whole wheel bobbin I'm plying onto. That looks like this.
All the bobbins should be facing the same way (the yarn should wind off in the same direction) and they shouldn't touch anything else as they spin. Yes, that's a very high tech plastic basket from the dollar store and equally high tech cheap knitting needles from a huge lot off e-bay - over 30 needles for $5. I took what I wanted and donated the rest to a school. It's my lazy kate. No, it's not tensioned, and I don't need it to be. I've used the tensioned Kate that came with my Lendrum, and didn't care for it.

(gasp! naked bobbins!)

Once the plying is done, I wind the yarn onto my 2-yd niddy noddy and tie it in three or four places (these hanks were four each because of their size) to avoid tangling. I take it to the bathroom where we have a little quiet chat about what the yarn is going to be when it grows up. This is when the neighbors get a little scared of me. First I run the water as hot as I can stand and put the yarn in. I put a little detergeant in (usually Eucalin, which I quite like, but was out of, so I used my own shampoo for these.) I squish HARD. I don't rub the yarn against itself, but I do some serious squishing. Then I take the yarn out of the water, squeeze out most of the extra and get serious.

I whack the yarn against the side of my bathtub with all my strength. This sort of settles the twist around the hank, for lack of a better explanation. Some spots might be more tightly twisted, some more loosely. Give the yarn a firm talking to in this manner, and it promises to straighten up and fly right from here on out. For no other reason than I like the rhythm of it, it's five whacks, move my hand a quarter of the way around the hank, five whacks, move my hand, five whacks, move my hand, five whacks. You may whack in your own private way. I will spare you a picture of what the bathroom looks like when you accidentally catch a shelf-full of bathroom bottles with the yarn on the upswing. But during the whole process, water goes everywhere, and it sounds a little like a gunshot when the yarn hits the tub, or so I'm guessing from the fact that the cats and dog all end up at the farthest point in the house from me at this point. Because I used a soap (the shampoo) and not Eucalin (a no-rinse detergeant) at this point I did the whole scalding hot water/fierce squish/whack thing again, but with no soap at all. Wanted to be sure it was clear of detergeant.

Then the yarn gets hung in the tub until it stops dripping, where it gets moved to another room.
See how I've twisted the neck of the shower head up to hold the weight of the yarn? It's purely a coincedence that each and everytime I've taken a shower after whacking yarn the ceiling has gotten wet. Seriously, it's a plumbing issue, not stupidity on my part.

Once it's dry, you can twist it up into hanks and put it in a bowl, or (golly!) even knit it into a sweater.

I'm resisting the urge to knit it now, because I'm waiting for a package of yarn relating to a deadline, and I need to be able to focus fully on that when it arrives.

But there it is, three hanks, pretty even considering that wasn't my goal. I think they're all pretty close to 8oz, and one is 292 yards, one is 294 yards, and one is exactly 300 yards. So not too much varience.

After finishing that, because I wasn't allowed to begin knitting it, I spun something else.

This is a gorgeous romney roving I bought at MDSW 2005 from Ozark Carding Co. The wool itself is freaky filthy. I finish playing with it and my hands look like I've been gardening. But the color is amazing - just like a nice verdigris on copper.

I grabbed a wad (technical term) without weighing it out or anything, and I'm allowing myself to spin it at my fall back weight, but I'm spinning it woolen, and I'm really more of a worsted girl.

I admit I can't explain it, but I also admit it's not the weirdest thing I've gotten into my head, so I'm just going to put it out there.

I've decided I must have a snood.

No. That's not quite right.

I've had dreams of snoods for three nights. (Ironically, when you google "snood" you get info about this game, which I already have on my computer, yet has not even remotely haunted my dreams)

So this yarn will become a snood. Just because.

Here's a quick view of the difference between the snood yarn (below) and the purple yarn (above) to see what my comfort level is (below) compared to me trying to spin thicker (above). For those who don't recognize it (hi, mom!) that's a WIP gauge, and the cut out there is exactly one inch.

Oh yeah.

And one last little thing I learned this weekend.

Even if it's 90 degrees out (32.2 C)

Even if there's no circulation in the house and it's stuffy and muggy.

Do not.

I repeat DO NOT

Attempt to drum card angora with a ceiling fan on.


Anonymous PuppyMomma said...

That would be one of the best spinning posts I've ever read! I think I learned more here than I have from any of the books I've read so far.

12:51 AM  
Blogger The Purloined Letter said...

Terrific post. Really interesting. The yarn looks fantastic!

A total beginner's question: When you are plying and run out of yarn from one bobbin, how do you join on the yarn from the new bobbin? Just twist it in?

8:27 AM  
Blogger DianeS said...

Another don't: Do not try and clip your angora bunny when it's that hot either! Unless, of course, you really want to look more like the bunny than the bunny does.

10:07 AM  
Blogger LaliƤna :) said...

Just want to take a moment to pat myself of the back for reading this whole post and being willing to admit that I understood none of it.

But I know pretty amazing stuff when I see it! WOW!


Have you been doing any singing at all?

Laura :)

10:59 AM  
Blogger jeekeehoo said...

The yarn/colorway for the snood! I think it's a very fun idea wherever it came from!!

12:57 PM  
Blogger Rose said...

Really awesome spinning going on there. I'm trying to drum card up my mess 'o fiber too and keep thinking, geez it didn't look like this much when I was buying it.

3:28 PM  
Blogger erica said...

My goodness you're a fast spinner! It takes me months to do what it seems to have taken you days to do. Your yarn looks fabulous. When I was my yarn, I tend to roll it in a towel and walk over it. The kitties love that and wonder what the interesting smell is inside the towel. :)
I can't wait to see the sweater, but I know deadlines are more important at the moment.

At least you've inspired me to spin some yarn this week. Yay!

3:33 PM  
Blogger firstknit said...

I am a beginning spinner, and have been struggling with plying. I cannot wait to try this basket set up! Thank you!

4:40 PM  
Blogger Teri said...

Amie - that yarn is absolutely delicious!! I really like the coppery yarn, as well... yumm!

Add 6 socks to the total; I've completed two pair and two singles since I last reported.

8:56 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm telling you, sweetie-
You may have fooled all of these people (including poor sweet Laura who seems to trust you so), but don't think you fooled me.
OK, I was going along pretty well, figuring I just didn't know squat about spinning, so those unfamiliar terms probably meant something to someone more informed than I. Then you slipped up - "All the bobbins should be facing the same way" indeed! They're ROUND, for pity sakes! And you'd obviously lost your momentum at that point, since your at first reasonably convincing but now obviously invented terminology began to slip further and further into childlike gobbledy-gook. "2-yd niddy noddy", she says. Right. Then you use "Eucalin", an obvious anagram of "I clean U"...
You know the rest.
You've been found out. I just hope these kind people will forgive your elaborate charade.

9:14 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

thank you so much for the tutorial. I didn't even know about storage bobbins. I found the same ones that you have on Ebay for $5! Woohoo! What a great idea. Your spinning is wonderous! Carolyn

7:03 AM  
Anonymous Shea said...

Amie... your mother is a hoot...


12:39 PM  
Anonymous Kendra said...

Gorgeous, gorgeous yarn--both the finished purple and the to-be-snood turquoise and copper. I find spinning fascinating, even though (maybe because?) I have no desire to do it myself.

12:52 PM  
Blogger tangelled angel said...

I love all your discriptions of how you were doing things!
Very funny posting.
I will be going home to try some whacking of my own :)

9:19 AM  

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