Tuesday, October 04, 2016


Spinning on the back deck yesterday by one of the new ponds
I mentioned in my last post that I am recommencing my ikebana studies and working towards my Master's certification in the Ichiyo School. Well, as of yesterday, I am also beginning the Master Spinner Program through Olds College in Alberta, Canada. I have wanted to take that program for a few years and not had the bandwidth. Part of the beauty of the move to Austin and re-establishing myself is that I get to also reset my bandwidth. So come mid-February I will be in Orlando for a week immersed in the coursework for the first year of the Master Spinner program.

After the week of in-class work, the rest of the coursework is independent study that will take anywhere from a couple of months to a year to complete. Work is sent back to the college for grading, and consists of spun samples and skeins and writings. The writings are regular college level and require standard formatting and bibliographic references. The program consists of six course levels (typically taking six years to complete) and covers all stages of fiber prep, a wide range of fiber types (specific sheep breeds to cellulose, cotton, silk, nylon, angora, etc.) spinning techniques (woolen, worsted, novelty), dyeing--in short, everything you'd expect to learn in a Master's program. I am so excited!!!!! This February course is a jump-start for me and I *might* even be able to also take level 2 next year while we're in Montana in June: Olds College is just north of us in Alberta and they offer all the courses in the Master's series every June during their Fiber Week.

Plying from both ends
of the same ball of singles yarn
Now on with our regularly scheduled programming: Spinzilla! Yesterday I spent clearing off bobbins (plying the singles on them into yarn and then skeining it). I get to count the plying towards my Spinzilla yardage, just not the spinning... Since this is the first technical spinning post in a while I probably should revisit some terminology. Spinning fiber means twisting it so that it holds together and is stronger than it is untwisted. If you leave the fiber in this state it is called a single and there are things you can do to it to keep it from untwisting. Most commercial yarn you see has been plied which means to twist two or more singles together in the opposite direction from which they were originally spun. Because you twist them in the opposite direction when you ply them together, the twists balance out and the yarn hangs straight--it doesn't come untwisted.

There was one project I had on a bobbin that I couldn't just ply off and that is a gradient yarn I am making from a couple of smooth batts from Lunabudknits. I bought two batts so that I could spin each one following the color gradient and then ply them together the same way. That will give me one long skein that goes from pale lilac through violet to soft dark grey. This isn't the project I wanted to do for Spinzilla, and yet I do want to finish it, and all yardage counts! Last night a few of us from our Spinzilla team got together at Hill Country Weavers and spun for a couple of hours and I finished spinning the first batt and made good progress on the second. I hope to finish it today--though it's already noon and I am still working on Other Things than spinning.

dark brown llama roving and Jig
The main project I had planned for Spinzilla is a blended yarn spun from dark brown llama and black merino sheep wool. The llama roving (roving is fiber which has been washed and then combed or brushed--brushing is called carding and is done with something that looks like a pet brush--so that it all lies in mostly one direction and is ready for easy spinning) is gorgeous, but I want to make a sweater out of it and llama fiber doesn't have any bounce to it like wool does. The bounce comes from the crimp of the fiber and it's what makes a baggy sweater go back into its original shape when you wash it. Llama fiber--at least the fiber I have--is more like silk and will have great drape, but it doesn't have crimp, so it won't have much memory and is likely to bag. That's why I want to blend it with the merino wool which is still a very soft fiber but also has good crimp and will help the sweater hold its shape. The bad news is that I don't know if I have any black merino on hand, and the batch I ordered from Ashland Bay isn't here yet and might not be before Spinzilla is over. The good news is that Austin is surrounded by great fiber stores, and the Happy Ewe in Jonestown has plenty of the exact roving I need. I'll take a road trip this afternoon after I get some more spinning in...

Empty bobbins and plied yarns--
Ready for Spinzilla!

1 comment:

Bill said...

I gather that when you twist, you're magical. So I've been led to understand.