02 February 2012

Happy Groundhog Day!

Crocus blooming on 2 February 2012.
Or for those of you following the Wiccan calendar, Blessed Imbolc! We're approaching my favorite point in the year, which is the 1st of March. My least favorite point is probably 1 November, the day after Samhain. I don't like cold and I don't like dark, so I really don't like November, which is all about getting colder and darker. I'm not so fond of December, either, but at least there are Yuletide distractions.

It already feels as if we are at the beginning of March rather than the beginning of February. Today there are crocus blooming by my mailbox! Glee! I am a very poor gardener. I'm good with animals, but really not good with plants. Back in the autumn I bought some crocus bulbs for about $5 and spent an hour planting them. I figured that if nothing happened, it wasn't a big loss in either time or money. But it looks like something is happening.

I'm still behind here on the blog (and in my life -- don't let me get started on the state of my house). But I am making progress. And I've already produced a little handspun yarn in 2012. I decided one night in January that I really, really needed to spin something. I dumped out the spinning stash, dug through it, and picked out a little bag of short, hairy fibers. These came from Claire, who is a member of AKG who has been de-stashing. I bought a half-pound ball of silk sliver from her at SEFAA's garage sale last spring. At our next guild meeting, Claire gave me a few more oddments from her spinning stash. The white hair is fairly soft but not soft enough to be rabbit. And the staple length is about an inch, which makes me suspicious it isn't wool. Who would shear a sheep for a measly inch-long staple? In the dry state, it has no obvious identifying smell. (It does smell like an animal when wet.) I've shown it to a lot of different people in knitting, spinning, and weaving guilds. I'm pretty sure this is chiengora, or dog hair, probably Samoyed. Interestingly, my knitter's cats do not seem the least perturbed by this.

I tried to spin it on my Rose wheel, but even with the lace kit, I could not get my leader to pull in and wind onto the bobbin. So, I pulled out the tahkli from the cotton sampler kit purchased a couple years ago at The Mannings. The wooden base I used came from a mezzaluna that was a wedding gift. (Thank you Aunt Diana & Uncle Dave!) I probably couldn't have made this work if I hadn't taken the class on how to spin on a charkha or if I hadn't previously spun a woolen preparation by drafting backward. Spinners make a big deal about backward draw, but it isn't all that bad and, quite frankly, I think I like it better than forward draw. The trick is to discern the sweet spot. You put twist in the fiber and let the twist run up towards the supply in your hand. The trick is to let the twist run up far enough to catch and pull fiber out from the supply in your hand, without the twist running all the way up into the fiber and making a knotted mess. It is a lovely, elegant way to spin a very fine thread, as the twist itself seems to pull out just the right amount of fiber to keep your thread diameter even. If you learn how to spin on a spindle with the park and draft method, you should be well on your way to learning a backward drafting method. In spite of my success with a supported spindle, or perhaps because of it, I do intend to acquire Fleegle's book.

I'll also need Fleegle's book so I can learn how to ply on a supported spindle. In the meantime, I used my 1st generation 6 gram 100% wooden trindle to make a 2-ply lace yarn. I have about 12 grams of fiber and about 110 yards of length. This isn't enough for a full shawl, but it should be enough for a little lacy fashion scarf.

1 comment:

-- Jolie said...

For anyone who may be looking for someone to spin dog hair as a remembrance, I am told that Kit Rose, wishfoxrequiem@yahoo.com, can accommodate such requests.