I had a blogging hiatus this fall and I also had a little hiatus in spinning. I was so excited back at New York Sheep and Wool to have learned some basic spinning techniques and I was just so set to spin like crazy. Then I think Superstorm Sandy and some other tough year-end events just made December seem like the last mile of a marathon.
But all that is behind me now and I have been having a fantastic time this past weekend and this holiday weekend spinning away. It is completely mesmerizing to hold the fleece in my right hand and pinch the fiber as it is pulled by the action of the wheel onto the bobbin. My left hand is focused on drafting and the right hand is pinching and my feet are pumping back and forth. When everything is working just right it is simply magic.
I love the qualities of the roving I have bought. I bought a variety of qualities so that I would have some to practice on and, with the better quality, a reward to look forward to. I tried to find the most unprocessed roving possible. I have both natural white and brown fleeces. They smell of lanolin and I love the feel of the lanolin on my hands as I spin it. The brown fleece has lots of particles of hay and straw in it and as I draft it with my left hand, the bits fall onto my sweats leaving little piles. It is all clean and not at all gross, it just reminds me of where this fleece came from. I have always loved finding little bits of straw in yarn as I knit.
As my left hand drafts the roving, the individual fibers sort themselves out and the roving which flows to my right hand is a collection of wispy fibers fanned out to twist into the proper weight ply. That is somewhat idealized. The reality isn’t quite that perfect yet, but there are moments when things seem to be working.
This is yet another skill which can only be perfected after much time. I see that very clearly. My yarn is not always even and the twist is not quite balanced, but I think I could spin a powerful lot of fleece into lumpy, semi-usable wool before I ever got to the point that something gorgeous came off my wheel. That said, I am having a complete blast and I do think the yarn I have made, while decidedly rustic, is gorgeous in its own way.
Here are the four skeins I have made to date. The one on the left is the second Skein I made. The first skein is to the right. You can tell that the second is much larger and the balance of light an dark colors is better. The second skein from the right is probably the most troubled. It has some significant twist and balance issues. I am not sure how it will be to knit up. On the extreme right is the fourth skein. While the plies are thicker than I would have liked, the yarn is perfectly balanced with the twist of the plies balancing out the plied singles. It is relaxed and should be great to knit with.
My new goal now that I have learned the rudiments of spinning is to spin, ply, skein and knit a sweater from roving. A complete sweater which would be as self-produced as possible short of raising a sheep, shearing it, washing and carding the wool and then spinning it. Wonder how long it will take to get to that point?