Setting the cotton

Baumwollefestsetzen, fixant le coton, fijando el algodón, ag leagann an cadás

Now here’s where I really need some help with the translation. Wenn Ihr mir mit dem richtigen Vokabular helfen könnt; faire des fautes en français n’est pas génial, mais on n’enseigne point des mots utiles à l’école ; me puedes ayudar con el vocabulario? An féidir leat cabhrú liom le na focail cheart?

cotton1Although I had seen on Stephanie Gausted’s dvd that you should wrap cotton yarn around a cone, then boil it to remove the oils etc, I just didn’t have one. My first skein was scoured as is, and ended up like a bad perm. I searched for dishwasher spare parts, then looked towards cutlery drainers, but none were suitable, or so I thought. I then searched for perforated steel tubes and came up with car exhaust parts in 50cm lengths. Easy! Buy one of those and get the hacksaw out. Best laid plans? Yes, experience forewarned, I decided to go for an easier option.cotton2

Finally I came across barbecue smoke-chip container on Ebay. I wasn’t sure if it would be genuine stainless, or at all suitable; I wasn’t looking for cotton3Sheffield steel, just something that would fall apart or leave rust marks on the yarn. $15 wasn’t going to do much damage, so I took a chance…

After boiling the yarn in diluted soda ash, then leaving it to dry for a couple of days, it came off the tube rather flat. Would it look like yarn if I washed it again? Or would it turn out like a bad perm? I gave it a roughed-up bath in warm water, wrung it by hand, then left to dry. And the result? Scoured cotton yarn that had recovered its body. Yep, a success. Bad perm on the left, coned-and-rewashed on the right.

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Spinning the North Ronaldsay

Rinneansaigh, Rinnansey

This was definitely on the list – a rare-breed, endangered, seaweed-eating sheep living on a Scottish isle. Who wouldn’t want some fibre to spin? Although there is a shop on the island that sells fleece in various preparations and colours, before I got round to ordering from them directly a local dealer was selling light-brown rovings at the Guild one day. Say no more.

TRon1he roving was soft and lofty, but with some coarser guard hairs in it, and quite easy to spin. That’s taking into account the usual droppage. Someone “allergic” to wool – or rather the prickle factor – would probably not appreciate this one but I’m already thinking of how I can incorporate the yarn into a beanie.

I’ve found that my cops turn out more egg-shaped, but when I try to wind a round cop, the spin goes out the window and is replaced by a nonconforming wobble. I’ll stick with egg-shaped.

Plying from a centre-form egg proved impossible as I’d lost the inRon4side end. I’ve also found that centre-pull balls/eggs etc from a drop spindle usually don’t work, even if turn them on a ball-winder. Oh well, at least you end up with a couple of egg-shaped cops that don’t need to be wound round a tennis ball before plying.

And the result? Two balls of 2-ply with all the character and interest of handspun and a bit more fibre left in the bag to be spun.

Is fearsaid me…

dealganWell, maybe not, but I’ve got one.

The latest addition to the spindle collection hails from Wales (rhyme on purpose – it’s from NiddyNoddyUK) and is made of pear, is smooth and well-balanced.

I’d read and heard that dealganan/fearsaidí (Help with the plurals? Anyone?) wobble a lot. Hmm… well, yes, but not beyond anything that can’t be controlled with a more central spin with the fingers. I find the same with notchless top whorls (and indeed with notched), and maintain that this makes them especially suitable for beginners, a bit like learning to drive in a manual as it teaches you more control.

Overall, I’m hooked on the dealgan and am thinking now that a Portuguese spindle would be an unnecessary luxury (he says).dealgan2

An added bonus was that the dealgan came well-packed, and cushioned amongst layers of combed Lleyn fibre – a breed that I thought I’d never get the chance to spin.

ps …pun in the heading

Mint fibre

mint fibreAlthough there’s still plenty of fibre in the stash, I had to try this. Just believe the ads when they say that it doesn’t actually smell of mint.

So what is it, then? Some retailers describe it as rayon, whereas others say “cellulose-based”. Tomayto/tomartoe, but I think I prefer the latter as it doesn’t bring to mind shinymint spindle2, clingy things from past decades, or the fabric seller in Ecuador who once tried to flog me some as “silk” then after a nonchalant stare from me, added “seda de rayón…”

And the mint? Mint-infused.

One source described it as being similar to soysilk, but I found it more like real silk to handle and in appearance. From what I remember, tmint yarn2he soysilk (and it was a few years ago) had more drape and less loft. The mint fibre, however, opened itself from the tops and spun finely with no great difficulty. The yarn actually has some stretch to it, too, quite a bit. I haven’t made anything with it yet, or tried dyeing it, but will see how it goes as weft. It certainly has the look and feel of silk. I reckon the fibre would blend well with wool, too.

 

 

Cotton

I finally got to the end of a bag of cotton roving that had been sitting in the cupboard, waiting to be scotton1pun. Perhaps it was waiting the arrival of the penny tahkli? I wanted to get some slubbiness to the yarn, so left lumps and bumps in it at regular intervals. The trouble is, more practice = less character to the yarn. During a recent alpaca spinning workshop at the Guild, I quoted the English comedian Les Dawson and his signature act of playing the piano with carefully placed “wrong” notes. He explained during an interview that you had to be good at playing the piano before you could be intentionally bad. In spinning terms, I guess that explains the difference between a beginner’s yarn and an art yarn. Nevertheless, yours truly shall continue to practise being intentionally bad.

As you can see, I spun as much cotton as would fit on the tahkli. Just the “feel” of it told me that any more fibre wasn’t an option as the spinning slowed and became more “cumbersome”. Then, this weekend just passed, I found an olive bowl – just the right width and length to accommodate the tahkli in resting mode.

Spindles

Instead of a snow dome with Big Ben and a Royal Guard, the souvenirs turkishof my recent holiday in England were all fibre-related. I bought small Turkish spindle from IST Crafts last year and found it a dream to spin fine yarns with, especially yak down and ahimsa silk. This year I decided to get a larger one for spinning sock yarns and the like. The choice was simple: bog oak. After all, who could resist wood from one’s birth country’s national tree, especially when the wood is about 5,000 years old? Easy. The brass weights at the ends of the arms are a bonus.

I’m still getting used to larger Turkish spindles, as I’ve found the ratio of initial spin to spindle size as the latter increases is different to that of round, top whorl spindles. However, it’s all good and the spindle has already produced a couple of balls of 4-ply equivalent Finnish Humbug.

tahkli

I also took the opportunity (combined postage cost) to get an IST penny tahkli. The fact that the coin is dated with my birth year was the icing on the cake. I should add here that I’m only just pre-decimal. Anyway, this one, too, is a pleasure to use and I look forward to comparing results with a fellow Guild member who also has one.

Autumn beanie

autumnbeanieSomeone pointed out that this could very well be the colours of a hitherto-unknown footie team. Better not wear it down the Port, then. Or to a quidditch match.

It was actually a thank-you for the many kilos of dahlia flowers mentioned in a previous post. I had some balls from a grey, crossbreed fleece spun many moons ago that had already made one serviceable beanie, so I decided to put the rest of that part of the never-decreasing stash to good use.

The yarn was over-dyed with dahlia flowers (orange) modified with bicarb, and dried Tagetes minuta tops. I think I prefer these particular colours on white yarn, but after the workshop surprises, I might just do my next lot of natural dyeing at the Guild. There’s magic in them there pipes…