Archive for May, 2006

I started a page for my Learning Exchange yarns. I have one done so far, with pictures. It’s some brown-gray Merino fleece I got in Vermont a few years ago. Parts are too short to comb, so I’ve been flicking it with no particular purpose in mind.

I’ll add more as I go. I’ve got a second yarn started, that tentatively involves scary pink hand-painted fiber. No, not that same one again, although I did start with the Merino/Tencel for sampling. I didn’t have enough, so I dyed some white top. One of my other goals for this project is to not buy any fiber. And since I’m not planning to do anything with the yarn, I can design all sorts of stuff that I would never actually use myself. There is something liberating about that, in a way, although The Boyfriend keeps commenting on the “Anti-Feorlen” yarns I’m turning out. I may have to stop just to protect my cranky traditionalist reputation.

Finally the website is back up. I wrote a few entries while it was down and now I can start putting up new stuff.

I’m almost done with the single for my first learning exchange yarn. The topic is Merino, so I wanted to explore carded fiber spun woolen. I have never been happy with how Merino spins drafting against the twist, nor any similarly textured crimpy fine wool. It doesn’t draft smoothly, it clumps no matter what I do to it. Most fleeces I see are too long to spin well this way anyway, but I happen to have a small amount of shorter Merino fleece.

It’s horribly filthy, I’ve been flicking it to get all the gunk out thinking I might try carding it. I hand carded a bin of rolags. As much as I hate hand carding, for this small amount of fiber finding someone with a fine cloth drum carder would have taken longer than just doing it. I’m spinning a moderately fine single, with just a little more twist than the minimum required to hold the yarn together. I’m trying to keep it even but it’s just insane. I’m not going to stop every length to fix every last slub like I had to do for the COE. Long draw is supposed to be fast and the yarn soft and lofty, such low-twist yarn would have to be absolutely perfectly even to not have thick and thin bits. What little twist there is tends to go to the fine spots, leaving the thicker sections to puff up.

Less crimpy fibers draft into an even yarn reasonably well, but more crimp does nothing but clump. It doesn’t appear to have anything to do with fiber length, the same thing happend with the nasty mystery fleece and that was not even remotely near the theoretical 3 inch limit for woolen spinning. But it was a fine fiber with a tight crimp. As was the Columbia cross I tried. And no matter how much I spin of this kind of fiber, my yarn does not improve. I’ve gotten better at stretching the rolag out into yarn, but it always ends up drafting unevenly into either slubs or thin sections. Supposedly you pinch the rolag so you are drafting a consistent amount of fiber with each length, but where the streched-out rolag breaks into a thin yarn-sized spot happens basically at random. Almost never where I am holding it.

So I’m doing a 4-ply and then I’ll give it a good thrashing to full it. I might pick off the larger lumps, as I’m sure there will be some left. It’s basically what I did for the 16-ply cable I did of the mystery fleece, but I don’t feel like going through all that again.

Several people have asked me what do you get for doing the COE. Well, you get a mention in a magazine and sometimes people are impressed. Other times people are impressed that you put up with all the nonsense to finish it. I have a new item for my textile resume. Mostly it seems that is about it.

One thing I wasn’t expecting is to be asked to submit something for a show. A few weeks ago, the president of HGA called me (the day after we moved, to be exact) and asked if I had anything to display at Convergence in June. If I had more notice, I might have been able to make something new. But I decided to send the two knit hats. I’m cleaning them up and we’ll see how it goes. I have no idea what to expect, other than the conference is having a display of work from recent COE recipients. The president is also the director of the COE program and is looking to promote it.

I haven’t been able to update the website, because our DSL is still not installed. The telco couldn’t get the address right and insisted we didn’t exist. I think our ISP finally re-ordered the circuit to get it correct. So instead of being offline a week, it’s going to be a month. I can still enjoy it from my personal laptop, but that doesn’t help you all that much. All five of you, as best as I can tell. I’ve been wanting to do some promotion for the website but I’ve held off knowing this would happen. I wouldn’t want to get everybody all excited and then have the website down.

But the world of textiles moves on, and as things get settled in the new place I’m getting back to spinning. I signed up for a Learning Exchange program with HGA, basically a sample swap with everyone getting bits of all the yarns. Each one is evaluated by the leader and everybody gets copies of the comments. I wanted to try the program, so I signed up for the Merino exchange. I’ve been spinning Merino for years, so I can explore without worrying too much about it. I know I can always produce some nice yarns just by going back to my normal spinning style. It’s a bit of a nuisance to do it in the middle of moving, but I’ll manage. I have two samples I like so far and I might do a third. There are more participants than the estimated 8 and each gets a fiber sample, small skein and wrapped wpi card. More of those detestable cards to cut, mark and wind. That right there may keep me to two yarns.

The loom is here, but it’s still in pieces. It will be a few more weeks before the place is together enough to start working on it, but I’m already ordering yarn and calling in various equipment out on loan.

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© 2004-2007 Andrea Longo
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