Category Archives: Spinning Technique

Spinning with Dyed Fiber + Giveaway

Check out Jillian Moreno's guest post & giveaway on the Woolery Blog! We’re pleased to welcome spinner, author, and instructor Jillian Moreno back to the Woolery blog (click here if you missed her excellent post about spinning tussah silk for embroidery).

Jillian is the author of Yarnitecture: The Knitter’s Guide to Spinning: Building Exactly the Yarn You Wantpublished by Storey Publishing in 2016. She is also the editor ofKnittyspin and is on the editorial board of Ply Magazine. She frequently contributes to Spin-Off and PLY Magazine and teaches all over North America. Be warned, she is a morning person and frequently breaks into song before 9am. Keep track of all of her crafty and other pursuits starting April at www.jillianmoreno.comShe lives buried in a monumental stash of fiber and books in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

I have a new spinning and knitting obsession. I’m entranced by working with dyed braids of fiber, dyed the same colorway, but spun in several ways for different effects. I can’t stop myself from playing.

Here’s a braid of Frabjous Fibers BFL top in the beautiful Cottage Garden colorway, normally I would just split it in two and spin it from end to end and ply it, letting it match or marl wherever it wants.

Spinning with dyed fiber, a guest post by Jillian Moreno on the Woolery Blog.

Today I wanted to do something else. I get really sick of the same old, same old yarns, even when I love the colors.

I made two 2-ply yarns in Cottage Garden that look dissimilar, but go together perfectly. My idea was to have one yarn match colors when plied and the second be as mixed up colorwise as it can.

Spinning with dyed fiber, a guest blog post on the Woolery blog by Jillian Moreno.

Left: single with clear colors, Right: single with mixed up colors

For my matching yarn, I split my fiber in two lengthwise, dividing it as evenly as I could. I spun two singles starting from the same end. I checked WPI every once in a while using Rosie’s Precise Spinning Control Card.  I don’t stress the spinning when I try to match color, because I have a couple of tricks I use to ply to match.

  • I rewind my bobbins, so I start plying with the same color I started spinning my singles. I find my spinning is much more consistent at the beginning of my spinning and the colors match up better when I ply.
  • I break it to make it. While I’m plying, if my yarn starts to marl instead of match, I break the single with the overlong color run, break out the rest of the color that is causing the marl, join it back together where the color would match the other ply (I use a spit splice to be sure it holds) and continue plying with matching colors.
Handspun yarn - two ways to spin with dyed fiber - click over to the Woolery blog to read more from Jillian Moreno.

Left: 2-ply with clear colors, Right: 2-ply with mixed up colors.

For my mixed up colors yarn, I split my fiber in two lengthwise, one piece for each ply, dividing it as evenly as I could. I spin to mix up colors as much as possible using these two tricks to get the yarn to marl in the single, then I ply it creating a double marled yarn. You can see the marling in the single on the bobbin above.

  • I split each length of fiber a second time and draft the two lengths together into a single.
  • Before I start drafting them together I flip one of the lengths so the color orientation starts at opposite ends. For example one length starts with green then goes to orange, then red, then pink and repeats, the second flipped length would start with pink, then red, then orange, then green and repeat.

I knit swatches of both yarns and they look great, different but the same, exactly how I wanted them to turn out. I love when that happens. One yarn is clear colored stripes and one is a mixed up tweed in the same colors.

Spinning with dyed fibers - get tips from expert Jillian Moreno on the Woolery blog.

What do you do with it? You might ask. Here’s what I’m thinking today.

I want to make a hat, using the clear, matching colors as the main color yarn, then using the mixed up colored yarn as a contrasting yarn to make a mixed up stripe within each solid colored stripe. Fun, isn’t it?

Lower left, matching colors; lower right, mixed up colors, top swatch mixed up colors as a striped within a solid green stripe.

Lower left, matching colors; lower right, mixed up colors, top swatch mixed up colors as a striped within a solid green stripe.

If you want more ideas to spin your dyed fibers or want some spinning suggestions on making exactly the yarn you want to knit, check out my new book Yarnitecture:The Knitter’s Guide to Spinning: Building Exactly the Yarn You Want. 

GIVEAWAY

Enter to win a copy of Jillian Moreno's new book, Yarnitecture, on the Woolery blog!Jillian and the folks at Storey Publishing have graciously donated a copy of Yarnitecture: The Knitter’s Guide to Spinning: Building Exactly the Yarn You Want to give away to one of our lucky readers! To be eligible in the prize drawing, please email contest@woolery.com with the subject line “Yarnitecture” and your first name, last initial & state/province in the body of your message. 

Please note, by entering this contest, you will be automatically signed up for our newsletter list which you can opt out of at any time; if you already receive our newsletter, we will simply confirm the address that we have on file so that you do not receive duplicate copies. 

We will randomly select one lucky winner to announce on our next blog post on Tuesday, November 22, 2016. Good luck! 

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Ask Nancy: Spinning Solutions

Nancy & Barry Schacht in the Woolery Booth at Convergence 2016

Nancy with Barry Schacht in the Woolery Booth at Convergence 2016

Got weaving problems? Stumped by your spinning? Our resident expert Nancy Reid will answer all of your burning questions in this new regular feature! Previously only available on our newsletter, we are moving Nancy’s informative column over to the Woolery blog for easy reference. In this month’s edition, we are sharing a few questions about fiber prep; to ask your own question, email weavernancy@woolery.com or click here to post your questions in our Ravelry group

All the Best,

Wave, Perri, and the entire Woolery Team

Q:

AshfordKiwi2I am new to spinning and in the market to buy a wheel.  Trying to choose a wheel is challenging as I have been reading and learning what characteristics are important.  

My confusion is with ratios: looking at the Ashford Kiwi 2, it says it has 5.5 and 7.25, which, if I understand this correctly, makes it a slow wheel that is good for spinning coarser wool. I would like to spin a variety of wool, but also alpaca-especially since I was given 2 processed fleece. Will this ratio work for alpaca?  Will I need to adapt the wheel or get additional kits for the Kiwi 2? Are there other wheels I should look at with a broader ratio?

A:

You are correct that the Kiwi 2 is a slow wheel, but there are ways to speed it up; we recommend the Kiwi Hi-Speed Kit, found here. As a beginning spinner, you need to balance the ability to go slowly enough that you can actually learn on it with the scope to take you past the first month and on into the rest of your spinning life; the Kiwi speed kit will certainly help with that.

Slower speeds are not precisely for spinning coarser wools, but rather for fatter yarns. The fiber is immaterial – it’s the diameter of the yarn that is affected by ratio. Skinnier yarns take more twist to keep them together than fat yarns do; given a steady treadling pace and a consistent drafting rate, you’ll need more twist to make a thin, sound yarn, and so will need a faster rate in order to keep making yarn at the same rate.

ladybugAlpaca, because of its warmth, is usually spun finer than wool (otherwise, it’s unbearably hot); so it is spun at a faster speed in order to keep consistent body mechanics, i.e. drafting rate and treadling rate.

There are many wheels with a broader scope than the Kiwi which also have the ability to slow down enough to be able to learn on them; the Lendrum Original is one of those. The Ashford Traditional and Traveller are also nice wheels with a lot of scope, as is the Schacht Ladybug. The Kromski Interlude and Sonata are possibilities, too. In general, the thing to do is to sit and treadle all the wheels that you are thinking about; the one whose action you fall in love with is the one to buy, whether you can spin on it yet or not.

Q: 

I have been spinning for about a year, and I am trying to teach myself supported long draw. The problem is that when I try to get started, the yarn feed onto the bobbin will separate from my leader or it will grab a large amount of fiber, creating large thick spots. What am I doing wrong?

A:

There are a couple of issues here; we’ll address them one at a time. For starters, with your leader, there are two ways to get past that:

  1. Tie a loop into the end of your leader, and if you put the end of your spinning fiber through a loop, it will usually be easier to get started.  
  2. Go ahead and spin worsted for a few inches rather than starting right in with a long draw, or just hold and accumulate a lot more twist before releasing the pinch to allow twist in to the drafted fiber.  

SpinnersToolboxRemember that a supported long draw lets in twist gradually from the hand in front repeatedly releasing the pinch to allow more twist in, and then pinching again so that you still have the ability to draft out your slubs (before too much twist gets added in); it’s a delicate back-and-forth. You may also have a little better control if you don’t run your arm out too far at the beginning, but go out gradually in steps as the twist is added.

Lastly, the key to a uniform yarn is as perfect a prep as possible; you can’t get nice slub-free yarn from a funky prep, and there’s no substitute for a consistent rolag.

In writing this, I realize that long-draw is a tough thing to verbalize; one of those cases where a picture (especially a video!) is worth a great many words. If you get a chance, Judith Mackenzie’s A Spinner’s Toolbox DVD is a good reference.

Ask Nancy: Fiber Prep

Ask NancyGot weaving problems? Stumped by your spinning? Our resident expert Nancy Reid will answer all of your burning questions in this new regular feature! Previously only available on our newsletter, we are moving Nancy’s informative column over to the Woolery blog for easy reference. In this month’s edition, we are sharing a few questions about fiber prep; to ask your own question, email weavernancy@woolery.com or click here to post your questions in our Ravelry group

All the Best,

Wave, Perri, and the entire Woolery Team

Q:

I have a ton of fiber (most of it very dirty) that I need to get carded so I can spin it. I do have wool and cotton carders, but the problem is that I now have some shoulder and elbow issues, so the carders are a little bit hard. I’ve looked at drum carders, but they are very expensive and it seems like you still have to really prep your fiber (plus you have to crank it), so it may not work for me. I like processing the fiber myself; I don’t want to send it out.

From what I’ve seen of combing from videos, it appears to be a little easier on the elbows than carding. If I can clamp one comb to the table and then use two combs (one in each hand), I should be able to get it done fairly quickly.

Would you agree that combing is easier physically, or just as challenging as carding? Can you recommend some combs, please?  I have wool and alpaca (very dirty) and also lots of cotton that I grew myself, so I will be processing both short and long fibers.

A:

All fiber prep will be wearing on the hands, wrists, and shoulders. If you are finding carding tiring, you will find combing to be equally so; there is no prep technique that will not have your arms screaming to be put down after half an hour. There is also no such thing as getting it done quickly; even with a drum carder (and there we have expense and still needing to hand-crank the thing), the best rate that you will get is about a pound an hour. Hand carding or hand combing will yield you about 4 ounces an hour, at best if you are lucky. The best strategy is a mental one; one is prepping for the enjoyment, it is all part of the game, and all things in moderation.

For alpaca, fine double-rowed wool combs are the best; they will also help get the debris out. For wool, you don’t mention the grade or length, so it’s a little tough to advise on that; but probably fine single row. For the cotton, cotton hand cards are best; the fiber is really too short and challenging to hand-comb at home. Hope this helps!

Q:

Hello, I have been spinning for a few years now but have always had my fiber processed by a mill. This year I have a fleece from an older alpaca I want to play with carding myself. What size or rated hand carders would I need for Alpaca?

A:

For most alpaca, cards in the 90-110 range will do just fine. In size of cards, the full-size are always going to be the most efficient. If you have any wrist or hand issues, then scale down to the student-size or even the minis, to give your wrists a break; though efficiency will suffer.

Don’t forget to check out our YouTube channel for more answers to your fiber and weaving questions! In the above video, we talk about the differences between combing and carding; click here to see more videos in the Ask the Woolery series.

Make Your Fall Extra Fibery!

With Spinzilla just around the corner and cooler temperatures on their way, we’ve got spinning on the brain! Team Woolery is already full for this year’s Spinzilla event, which takes place October 5-11, 2015. We’re excited to welcome spinners near and far to our team, and will be sharing details about our team events and the grand prize drawing for a $100 Gift Certificate here in the Team Woolery thread on Ravelry. Each of our team spinners on will also receive a lovely spinning apron as a gift from the Woolery and Strauch Fiber Equipment!
The Woolery is proud to host a team for Spinzilla 2015!Even if you won’t be spinning with us, we have some Spinzilla specials you may wish to take advantage of, such as our specially priced Monster Mile Fiber Packs and our Rosie Spinning Wheel Maintenance Kits. We also recommend stocking up on extra bobbins for your wheel and ensuring you have the necessary tools to measure your yarns and wind them into tidy skeins for future use. We have niddy noddies, yarn meters, ball winders, swifts and more to make your craft room complete.

How to Wind Yarn on a Turkish Spindle
Today’s tutorial is the second installment in our Turkish spindle series – click here if you missed our tutorial for getting started with a Turkish spindle! Once you’ve started spinning, you will need to periodically stop to wind your yarn onto the arms of the spindle. There is a special method to create a center-pull ball of yarn as you spin!
How to Wind Yarn on a Turkish Spindle on the Woolery BlogBeginning as close to the shaft as possible, wrap your yarn under the first arm and then over the next two arms:
How to Wind Yarn on a Turkish Spindle on the Woolery BlogAnd that’s really it! You will continue in this manner, wrapping the yarn under one arm, then over the next two in a clockwise fashion. Each wrap will be shifted to the right as you go, and you will build from the center out til your spindle looks like this:
How to Wind Yarn On a Turkish Spindle on the Woolery Blog (image via creative commons, click for source info).Once you have filled the space between the arms with wrapped yarn, it’s time to start the next layer by once again wrapping the yarn close to the shaft and working from the center out.

When you’re done, you can easily remove your yarn by removing the shaft and then sliding out the smaller of the two arms first. Once both arms are removed, you will have an easy-to-use center-pull ball of handspun yarn!

All the best,

Wave, Perri & the entire Woolery team

The Fiber Toys of Christmas will return to the Woolery in October! Stay tuned for amazing deals on your favorite fiber toys!The Fiber Toys of Christmas are returning for another year! Stay tuned for more details; we’ll be revealing the first fiber toy on Friday, October 16. We recommend signing up for our newsletter or following us on Facebook, Twitter or Ravelry to be notified of each weekly deal!

Meet Wave & Perri + Getting Started on a Turkish Spindle

Since making our announcement on last month’s blog post, we’ve received some requests from our customers who would like to get to know the Woolery’s new owners just a little bit better. Wave and Perri are very excited about owning The Woolery and look forward to continuing the mission of providing a wide variety of quality supplies and equipment at a fair price to the fiber arts community.

perri22Perri will use her retail background to ensure that The Woolery continues to offer the best personalized customer service possible. In addition to rug hooking and cross stitching, Perri enjoys restoring antiques and assigning Wave “Pinterest Worthy” projects for their home.

wave22Wave’s marketing background will help ensure that The Woolery continues to lead the way in offering interesting and unique new products. Wave will also focus his efforts on the e-commerce experience offered by The Woolery. Wave’s outside interests include woodworking and photography.

Married for more than 30 years, Perri and Wave have two grown sons and make their home in Lexington, KY. They look forward to joining you on your fiber journey!

Being able to take your handspinning project with you wherever you go can be especially handy during the summer months. Vacations, picnics, and other outings don’t have to mean that you leave your spinning at home! A Turkish drop spindle travels well and is quite easy to use – and when you’re finished spinning or plying,  the spindle slips apart, leaving your yarn in a neat ball that’s ready to use!

One of our own spinning gurus, Taevia, has a unique way of starting a spinning project on a Turkish spindle which doesn’t require a leader. She has shared her step-by-step process with us this week so that you can give it a try, too!

turk1

Step One: Begin with a small amount of spinning fiber. Gently wrap one end around top of shaft and secure with one hand.

turk2

Step Two: Using your other hand, begin to draft out more fiber, wrapping it around the shaft a few times.

turk3

Step Three: Draft the fiber some more and introduce enough twist to produce a single ply in your desired weight.

turk4

Step Four:  Wrap your yarn a few more times around the shaft, then loop it over your index finger as pictured above to make a half hitch.

turk5

Step Five: Place the loop over the shaft of the spindle and pull the working end of the fiber up – this will secure your yarn, allowing you to continue spinning!

turk6
Step Six: Now you’re ready to spin!

As you amass more yardage, you will need to wrap your yarn around the arms of the spindle. The standard way to do this is to wrap your single over two arms, then under one arm as you tension the working yarn and slowly rotate the spindle as you wrap. This will create a ball of yarn that is wrapped around the arms of your spindle, allowing you to fit a considerable amount of yarn on your spindle, depending on the weight of yarn you are spinning. When you have finished spinning or plying, simply remove the shaft so that you slide each arm out of the yarn ball you just created!

 

 

Planning Your Next Handspun Project is as easy as 1, 2, 3!

Some folks enjoy the process of handspinning as a way to relax or unwind (if you’ll pardon the pun), while others find a more technique- or results-driven approach to be be satisfying – for instance, spinning a woolen-style yarn or experimenting with a new technique to create art yarns. Among our customers, it seems as though most folks prefer a mixture of both, and today’s post will help you plan your next handspun project for those days when you crave a little more structure in your spinning session.

Handspun Yarn

1. It’s all about the yarn: think about the resulting yarn you wish to create – are you looking for something to suit a particular project? Do you have a fiber that you would like to try out which you’ve never spun before? Do you want to make a lofty single-ply yarn, or are you thinking about a sturdy three-ply yarn? Are you looking to try a new spinning or fiber processing technique? All of these are questions which can help guide you to creating the yarn of your dreams without a whole lot of trial and error.

2. Keep a Diary: Starting a sample notebook is a great way to record your progress as a spinner, and it will become a powerful, time-saving reference guide for yourself as you progress. Include a sample of the finished yarn amd make note of  how you prepared the fiber, which techniques you used, how many plies and in which direction you plied both the singles and finished yarn, resulting WPI, ratios used, and – if you have multiple spindles or wheels – which wheel or spindle you used. Making note of any other pieces of equipment you used (for example, which type of combs you used, the type of cloth that was on your carder, or if you used an andean plying tool, etc) is also helpful. These are all things which seems like they’re be memorable at the time, but much later, you’ll be happy you wrote them down – it’s amazing how many of these little details can get lost in the process otherwise!

IMG_3200

3. Spin those samples: Use a small sample of your fiber to spin up singles using the techniques you plan on using. This will allow you to see if the fiber and technique are a good match, and also give you some time to get familiar with both elements. Not only that, but if you need to achieve a specific weight for the finished yarn, the sampling process will allow you to make the necessary adjustments to ensure success in your finished product. Use as much fiber as you can reasonably spare – an ounce or two is ideal. You will want to be sure to treat your finished samples just as you would your finished project by rinsing them in your favorite wool wash and hanging them to dry! If your sample didn’t turn out as expected, it’s time to get back to the spinning wheel to make any necessary adjustments to achieve your desired results.

Once you have completed steps 1-3, it’s time to start spinning the yarn of your dreams!

All the best,

Chris, Nancy, and the entire Woolery team

3 Ways to Experiment With Color In Your Next Spinning Project

With so many dyed fibers available to handspinners these days, you may be wondering how to best put them to use for your next project. There are many ways to incorporate color into your next project – too many to cover in just one blog post! We’ve seen lots of great articles and blog posts covering some of the better-known techniques such as chain-plying and fractal spinning, so today we’d like to share some different ways to approach dyed fibers when spinning yarn:

1. Spin a two-color single: Create a truly unique yarn by selecting two complementary colors of dyed fiber to hold together as you spin a single! You may wish to use the resulting yarn as-is – we recommend a slight felting process to give it added strength, creating what is known as a supported single. Or, you may choose to ply with a solid-color single which either matches or coordinates with your two-color single to create a variegated, tweedy yarn!IMG_1767

2. Use a blending board to create rolags with repeatable patterns: this handy fiber prep tool is more affordable and portable than a drum carder, and it gives fiber artists the freedom to create rolags which can be used to spin interesting yarns! Striped, ombre, or colorful gradient rolags are all easy to create on a blending board. Below is an easy-to-follow video tutorial from Ashford demonstrating how to use this tool:

3. Mix & Match Your Singles: If you have a lot of natural-colored fleece and fiber and you don’t want to dye the resulting yarn, try plying your natural-colored single with dyed single to create a marled effect. In the top example, a natural brown single is plied with a dyed single similar in value for a subtle tweed effect; in the bottom example, a natural white single is plied with a brightly-colored dyed fiber for a fun barber-pole effect.IMG_1758

We look forward to a colorful, fibery spring – thanks for joining us!

All the best,

Chris, Nancy, and the entire Woolery team