Posts tagged ‘learning exchange’

Yesterday I got the package of yarn back from my Learning Exchange group. It was just yarn, the evaluations will come later apparently. So now I have a sample from everyone in the group who finished. Some did not, so there are only ten samples out of the original thirteen members. The coordinator wrapped everything up nicely in tissue and a lace ribbon and included a handwritten note. The entire package was lovely, and it was great fun to go through it all and see what everyone had done.

I like to see other people’s yarn. I want to see not only what other people are up to, but how they approach yarn design. This group had a range of spinners, from two to twenty-five years of experience, and the yarns were of all sorts of kinds of Merino. Raw fleece (some from personal flocks,) small-lot mill carded and the ever-present Ashland Bay. There were blends with silk, angora and mohair and yarns both fluffy and smooth. Most were two or three ply, but there was a single and my 4-ply. Some spinners measured angle of twist but most didn’t, one participant included an extra sheet describing the different scouring methods she tried. Scouring is important for Merino, because it has way more grease than pretty much anything else.

I don’t know how long it will be to get the evaluations, but the group leader has all the materials so things should be coming along. I’ll post more later.

The Learning Exchange samples are going in the mail, The Boyfriend is off for the long weekend, and work is being relatively tame. I even already took care of my mother’s birthday present. I can hang out and do all the fiber stuff I want.

I’ve started spinning for some legwarmers, but not the kind you think. You see, I like the idea of handknit socks, but I don’t actually like knitting that fine so they fit in my shoes. But it’s Summer once again in San Francisco, so my legs are freezing all the time. I’m going to make just the leg part of some knee socks, out of one of the black lamb fleeces I got last summer. It will probably take a little elastic in the top cuff to make it work, but that’s really no different from the sock variety.

In the I-Have-A-Loom-Now department, I ordered some cotton weaving yarn. One is a big cone of singles blended natural green organic cotton, which I will probably ply with itself the same way I did with the stuff I found on pirns at the surplus craft store. It’s all really fine, presumably intended for weaving sheeting. I now have white, brown and green and I think somehow dishtowels will happen. I just need to get the studio cleaned up.

I’m working on my second learning exchange yarn, three plys of different colors. My first sample was about my usual small-ish size and the space-dyed pink vanished in the final yarn. Now I’m making the singles about twice as large so you can actually tell there is supposed to be something going on there. I like subtle, but my idea of subtle is usually not even noticed by anybody else. So it looks like I’m doing two bulky knitting yarns. How… un-weaver of me. Oh well.

The yarn is one ply burgundy, one ply red and one ply the dyed pink. I’ll have pictures up when I get somewhere, but for now I’ve only just started on the first single. I pulled off about 30 g of each fiber (yes, I measured.) I need about 70 m of yarn for all the samples, I hope that will be enough.

If I were ambitious, I’d knit a swatch of the other yarn and take a picture for the website. Err, maybe later. After the sofa gets assembled.

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.

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.

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