Friday, 5 June 2015

Spinning from the Fold with the Twist Between Your Hands.

"If you carry on practicing til you can draft smooth worsted yarn off the end of wool tops, you'll be getting your bus pass before you ever spin anything else."  
Elinor Gotland looked at me, hunched over the spinning wheel, desperately concentrating on shifting my thumb across the fibre supply in my right hand, just like Jacey Boggs says. I looked up to reply, pedalled too slowly, lost the twist, broke the single and then couldn't find the end on the bobbin. As I hurried indoors, all fraught, to find a bit of sticky tape, Elinor called after me. 
"You've got obsessed with inchworming, Beaut, it's time you loosened up and lived a little."

Elinor is not the first to spot my preference for the controlled, short forward draft.  Jacey Boggs' online Craftsy class 'Worsted to Woolen' was recommended especially to help me learn about long draw spinning, as I have been having a go at this on and off for a couple of years, never really taking that leap of faith and stretching out a half a rolag backwards. Jacey is very easy on the ear, eye and spirit, such a reassuring instructor.  I think I may be developing a crush. Just as the title implies, her first lessons are about worsted spinning.  I dutifully followed the programme, watched the first three classes over and over and now understand a great deal more about the underlying principles of spinning worsted, though getting proficient is going to take me years.  

Lesson Four is about spinning from the fold, which I have tried a few times already and got on ok. Feeling quietly confident, I chose a 50g bag of lush black alpaca with a massive staple length of 18cm, which I bought from the Fleecewitch at Wonderwool. However, part way through this section, Jacey requires her eager audience to let the twist travel into their fibre supply.  This has never really gone well for me.  Having flick combed the alpaca into a nice, orderly pile of locks on the arm of the sofa,
I was relieved to discover that when you are working from the fold, since your finger stops the twist from eating up everything in your hand, basic competence can be achieved without too much swearing (or lying behind the sofa in a heap of mangled fibre, sobbing uncontrollably).

"Look, Elinor, I'm letting go of the yarn with my drafting hand so the twist can pull up the fibres. Come and let me show you my drafting triangle."
"People get arrested for saying things like that, Beaut."
"Damn it all, I shall let in the twist, draft backwards if I like, fill my yarn with air, spin 
                                            woollen, wild and free!"

"Bet you're going to knit another shawl now, aren't you?"
"Dunno.  If I had a tattoo done, what should it say?"
"Not knitting a shawl and having a tattoo?  OMG, Fran.  How about 'Cry "Havoc!", and let slip the dogs of wool?' Plenty of room to write that across your arse. Some of it might get lost in the wrinkles, mind."
It's best to be cautious when swinging in a hammock.  The wind has been awfully gusty today.


  1. dogs of wool!! Love it . But poor Elinor.... was it the hurricane that got her? Jaki

  2. Oh how I could empathize with this. Spinning is such pleasure and pain. Would you recommend the craftsy class overall? Thank you for your wonderful blog.

    1. Absolutely. It is full of really functional explanations and advice and often available half price. I'm well into Lesson Five now.