Thursday, July 23, 2009

Update on Longdraw Spinning

I've just completed two bobbins of singles yarn spun as I was shown at the workshop run by the Guild of Longdraw Spinners at the Derbyshire Guild a couple of Saturdays ago.

I spun part of a beautiful Portland fleece which has loads of crimp, which I hope you can see here. Being very fine and crimpy, I realised, as I was spinning, that I might just have a few problems with this method of spinning as it has a tendency to stretch the fibres and I felt that I might just have a problem with the crimp wanting to relax once plyed and off the bobbin.

You will see from this image just what I mean! I have seen worse, but there is a fair degree of relaxing of the crimp that causes the yarn to be rather unruly, to say the least!

Once I realised what was happening, and remembering how Margaret Stove described how she relaxed the crimp before allowing any twist into the drafted fibres, I began to modify my spinning technique. If you don't know this technique, Margarets book is "Merino - Handspining, Dyeing and Working with Merino and Superfine Wools", ISBN 0-7090-4711-8.

Although this isn't a good image, you will see that the plyed yarn, at the top, is not wanting to relax and crimp up again.

So what have I learnt! Well, this method of longdraw is not to be used with very fine, crimpy fleece. Rather, is should be spun using Margaret Stoves method, only allowing the twist into the drafted fibres once the crimp is relaxed. I will try a small sample using my usual longdraw technique, where I prepare the fibres into rolags first and see if that produces a smoother less unruly yarn. I'll let you know anon!

Monday, July 13, 2009

The Guild of Longdraw Spinners

On Saturday I went to my guild for a lovely workshop with the Guild of Longdraw Spinners. Three lovely ladies, including the Chair, Pam, gave an interesting talk on how the guild formed, followed by a very informative workshop on longdraw spinning.

I've been using the longdraw method for quite a few years, mostly with very short fibres, silk noils, cotton, downland fleece, etc., where I prepared small tightish rolags before spinning. However, we were shown how to spin directly from fleece using the longdraw method, so this was something new to me. Pam was very passionate about longdraw and so was an excellent teacher and started by showing us how to twist a lock of fleece before drafting by hand without our wheel! This gave everyone the confidence to add the wheel into the "mix".

By the afternoon we were all spinning with the longdraw method and Pam and her collegues showed us how to us her "Tool Box" to improve our technique! By the time I left the workshop at 4pm I'd just about spun a whole bobbin of my lovely soft Portland fleece, now I've just got to knuckle down and finish spinning the rest of it! Using longdraw of course.

Two things Pam said was that longdraw was quicker than semi-worsted spinning because you get an arms length of fleece at a time which is quicker, but I would dispute that, as you have to ensure you have enought twist in the arms length before allowing the yarn to be pulled on to the bobbin. Her other note was that you should spin "in the grease" for best results. I'm afraid I'm not an advocate of that, I feel you get better results from washing as any dirt, etc., is not trapped in the yarn and is cleaner as a result. She did say, however, that each to there own and there is no right way or wrong way to spin and I do, whole heartedly, agree with that!

If you've always been a little afaid of longdraw spinning, do attend Pam's workshop, it will really give you confidence to have a good go at it.
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