Tag Archives: fiber preparation

Skillbuilding for Spinners

Spinzilla will be here before you know it, and if you’re planning on spinning with Team Woolery, we’ve got a few tips to help your hone your skills this month!

BFLfleece

BFL Fleece

If you’re new to the  world of spinning, you might be wondering what type of fibers you should try first. Prepared tops are the easiest to manage, and there are a few breeds we recommend for beginning spinners such as Blue-Face Leicester (BFL), Polwarth and Merino. Experienced spinners may want to try their hand at something new, and we have a new video in our Ask the Woolery series this month showing our easy-to-follow tips for washing raw fleece. With the abundance of wool festivals and other fibery events this fall, it’s a great time to give spinning raw fleece a try!

If you have just graduated to wheel spinning, you might be wondering about the differences between single and double drive systems or, similarly, the differences are between Scotch and Irish tension. Have no fear – we explain all in our Ask the Woolery series, or you can click here to read our informational Spinning Wheel page on our website! If you’re still getting the hang of wheel spinning, you’ll want to spend some time this month getting more familiar with each option to see what works best for you.

doubledrive

Spinning Wheel Set Up for Double Drive

Another important skill to have is the ability to properly maintain your wheel. This will not only make spinning easier and faster, it will make your investment last longer! You can check your manufacturer’s instructions or click here for our maintenance tips here on The Woolery Blog. Before you give your spinning wheel a workout for Spinzilla, you’ll want to make sure everything is ship-shape!

Finally, all spinners will want to become pros at measuring their yarns since the goal of Spinzilla is to see which team can spin the most yardage. There are several ways to do this: you can use a Niddy Noddy (below is our easy video tutorial), a Yarn Balance (featured last month on our blog) or a yardage counter.

All the best,

Chris, Nancy, and the entire Woolery team

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Picking, Grinning, and Heavenly Handspinning!

King Edwards, a Border Leicester at Windsor Wool Farm.

We are just back from the Kentucky Sheep and Wool Festival. We brought back big bags of beautiful Border Leister Fleece from Windsor Wool Farm, a fourth generation family farm. These fleeces have lovely long locks that are just begging to be washed up and run through our new pickers.

Pickers look like some sort of medieval torture device, but they will quickly become one of your favorite fiber tools, particularly if you are trying to process an entire fleece.  They open up the locks and make combing or carding a dream!

Spinning Wheel Spotlight: Heavenly Handspun!

Now that you have gathered your fleece; picked and carded it; you are ready to spin! Meet Heavenly Handspun, one of our newest additions to our spinning wheel line up. These budget-friendly wheels work with bobbin lead or Irish tension. The drive band goes over the wheel and bobbin and the take up is controlled by a brake on the flyer.  They have two styles of electric spinners and two types of drive wheels: the clever bicycle wheel and the beautifully engraved wooden wheel.  All of their wheels are light-weight and easy to move around.  Simply put they make spinning heavenly.

Chris, Nancy, and the entire Woolery team!

Get To Know The Drum Carder: New Video!

Abby (center) talks about twist.

Last Saturday was one of those days that makes us feel very lucky to do what we do. Hosting Abby Franquemont, one of spinning’s greatest treasures; and Otto and Joanne Strauch, makers of Strauch drum carders had the store hopping. We all learned something new.

Many of our regulars joined us for the day. Among others, were Liz with her new Sidekick; Tavia with drop spindle in tow; Moe who is a regular in classes. It is such a pleasure to watch students emerge from a class brimming with excitment and new knowledge.

While Abby was teaching a very full house, Otto and Joanne were giving demos on their Petite and Finest Drum Carders.  We know that many of you were not able to make it to the shop. We wanted you to still be part of the day.  Here is a video of Otto and Joanne giving us an introduction to the drum carder.  It is brimming with information on how to turn use a drum carder including lots of tips and tricks.  They show us how to transform fleece into light and airy batts ready for the spinning wheel.  Whose in?

Chris, Nancy, and The Entire Woolery Team

Matchmaking: Picking the Right Tool for the Right Fiber Prep + How to Wind a Pirn

Cheviot Wool Roving

Woolen and worsted—these terms are thrown about a lot.  To hand spinners they have very specific meanings.  Worsted yarns are made from combed fiber preparation (think combing your hair) while woolen yarns are made from a carded preparation (think brushing your hair). As a spinner we have a lot of control over what kind of yarn we make. The secret is all in the preparation. Whether we buy prepared fiber or do the processing ourselves, knowing a bit about the subject will help become better spinners.

Cheviot Wool Top

Prepared Spinning Fiber

We are frequently asked, “What is the difference between fiber top and roving?” Top is combed and roving is carded.  Top has all the fibers aligned (worsted), while roving presents the fibers in a  jumbled array (woolen). Top produces smooth, strudy yarns while roving produces fuzzy, lofty yarns.  There are degrees of each preparation such as semi-worsted or semi-woolen.

DIY Hand Combs and Carders

From left to right: English, Hackle (at rear) and Viking combs.

Combing removes the short fibers, aids in dehairing, and leaves fibers of uniform length. At The Woolery, we stock three basic types of combs: English, Viking, and Hackles.  English combs are an excellent choice for processing large amounts of longish- stapled wool.   Viking combs are  good choice for processing small batches of fiber including short-stapled breeds. Hackles are beloved by many for color blending.

Carding opens up the fibers, distributes them evenly, leaving them in a disordered arrangement.  There are many styles of handcards. Their teeth vary in size. The closer the teeth are  the better they are for fine fibers and inversely the wider apart the teeth the better they work for medium to corse fibers .

There is also the amazing drumcarder.  It cards large amounts of fiber and is an excellent choice for making custom color blends to create unique handspun yarn.  Speaking of drumcarders, we hope you can join us for Strauch Demo Day on February 25.  Don’t worry if you can’t be here, Otto and Joanne will give us a little virtual demo that we will air later.

This barely scratches the surface on the subtleties of fiber preparation.  Feel free to post your questions here or on on our Facebook and Ravelry pages.

Limited Time Special!

To get you started on your own fiber-prep journey, enter coupon cod FHOLD99 at checkout and receive 1 free holding fixture with any in-stock purchase of mini, regular, or viking combs. (Small print: excludes English and Louet mini-combs.)

Before We Move On

Last month we talked a lot about weaving shuttles.  We received a lot of questions about which shuttle is best for what purpose and in particular how to wind a pirn for the end-delivery shuttle.  Check out our latest videos on You Tube for the answers to your burning shuttle questions!  (And, post any ideas for future videos!)

Wheee!

Chris, Nancy, and the entire Woolery Team