19 September, 2011

The Long Draw

I've decided it's time to learn how to spin.

"What?" I hear you say. "Isn't that handspun in your last post?" Well, yes, it is. And I spun it, which means I know how to spin already.

What I mean is, I'd like to know that such-and-such a fiber would be best spun such-and-such a way, to be able to spin multiple thicknesses of yarn on purpose (as opposed to varying degrees of thin), to spin fluffy yarns or tight sock yarns as I choose, and to spin stuff like this for fun:
Sparkles! Flowers! So cheerful! 

Puffy! The orange reminds me of a certain favorite Sister of the Art for some reason...

Basically, I want to be the boss of my spinning.

Now that my desires have been established, let me take you back to the very early days of my current knitting career. I learned to knit English style, with the working yarn in my right hand. In its infinite wisdom, the Internet informed me that this was not, in fact, the only way to knit! I found a video, watched it a mazillion times, cursed a lot, and learned to knit Continental, with the working yarn in my left hand. It was, to say the least, an interesting experience to take something my muscles already knew how to do and try to change it.

Learning to spin long draw is much like that experience. Here is my first attempt, rudely chain-plied and completely unstable, unstructured and not really good for anything:

48 yards!
Still, it's finished, and I learned something. For the next attempt I dug into my Copperpot Woolies bag and pulled out 5.1 oz of the Prairie Lady colorway. I don't really know why I bought this one, although I suspect the wool fumes may have something to do with it. The colors aren't my favorite (what gave it away?), so it was first in line to become Long Draw Experiment #2:

132 yds., sport-to-bulky weight
This one worked out better, although I still have some serious kinks to work out with the next experiment, which will happen when I come back from Portland next week.

In the mean time, I've revived a project I started back when I was still living in San Jose. I haven't done a lot of spinning since then so I have no idea why it's easier this time around, but it is. When I started spinning this Falkland from Pigeon Roof Studios, it immediately spun very fine. I've never really encountered a yarn that "wanted" to spin at a certain weight, but this one definitely does. With a very little fluffing and pre-drafting - which might account for it being easier to spin now - it wound onto the bobbin at a very satisfactory rate.

I don't have any illusions that this yarn will be finished before October; I got 2 braids as a gift from my friend Colleen that weight in at 232 grams, of which I've spun... 32 grams. It'll make a lovely addition to my spun yarn total by the end of the year, though!