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Spinning in the garden.
 
My Rovings & Ramblings Blog
'Some recent thoughts...
 and somewhat unconventional
ideas'

Hand spun fleeceSummer 2017

Spinning yarnWe will be holding spinning 'Come & Try it Saturdays' on dates through out the summer at Hellygog Logie Steading Forres...bookmark this page for dates.

also!!!!

Spindle'Learn to Spin on a Drop Spindle' using conventional spindles and the ancient traditional Scottish 'Dealgan' (pronounced Jellygan) spindle. which we soon be offering for sale including a free lesson from Hellygog!

 

Just collected two lovely Jacob fleece last evening and a Suffolk too! Much as I love spinning with coloured 'tops' my real love is spinning freshly sheared fleece 'in the grease' Lovely for hats , gloves and winter woolly stuff! and a totally natural product which is almost waterproof! Cant wait to get them all sorted for spinning!

Hand spun fleeceSPRING 2017.

Having struggled for years with Lazy Kate's that are badly designed or in some cases simply don't work... you know what I mean? you are trying to ply 2 yarns together and the bobbins on the lazy Kate race around at a crazy pace...leaving you with a mass of tangled yarn. having only two hands it is almost impossible to un-tangled it all and still hang on to your plying! this leads to frustration... and high blood pressure!

 I feel that most Lazy Kate's are badly designed, the tall ones tend to fall over and have no tensioning device on them at all..in the days when Haldane wheels were on the go, they used to produce rather a nice Lazy Kate that worked better but was still not tensioned and so the same problem. and if you go for a Lazy Kate with a tensioning device it usually costs a small fortune!

Watching me get to the point where the whole lot almost got thrown out through the window, my husband disappeared into the workshop and emerged a little later with a wonderful gizmo that he had made out of (get this!) scrap wood, fishing line, a cut down chopstick and a wooden bead (plus a few more bits and bobs)!  it didn't look particularly pretty but I could see at once how well-designed it was and that it would work!

 Having given it a test run I was jumping up and down in delight! Here was a very simple little device that you could stand on a table or a stool  next to the spinning wheel while you plied, once you got the tension right it worked like a dream! and it could be adapted for either two or three bobbins....so a little later this year my husband is going to produce some  to sell, that are of course made out of slightly nicer wood than an old pallet ha ha!  and finished off nicely...and they will be for sale on this website. It takes all the anxiety out of plying...it works calmly sensibly and smoothly.... just like my husband bless him! so later this year we will have for sale a wonderful little gizmo that is made largely of recycled materials, and will certainly not cost the earth! If you are interested in  having one please email me at: silvermoon@BTconnect.com and I will let you know when they are available.

I am so excited about this project! I have always loved intermediate technology, and this is intermediate technology at its very best I believe! x

 

(Earlier blogs....2015 onwards!)

Hand spun fleeceJust a few thoughts that I would like to share with you. Over the past few months (2015), I have again picked up where I left off with my spinning. Having reached the grand old age of 71  and three quarters, and having sort of semi-retired from part of my day job, I have had more time to reconnect with this beautiful art and with the thought of ' spinning into old age'
farmer and sheep( not there yet. They tell me that 70's is the new 40's!) ... is very comforting!

Having decided to order some commercially prepared 'tops' because I intend to start selling my hand spun yarn in Spring 2016, I discovered that there is now a huge variety of glorious coloured tops and bats and more stuff than I would have thought possible for prospective spinners to play with! Having at the same time purchased a magazine called 'Spin Off' which is an American publication, I discovered that we are way behind the USA in this craft, it was quite a revelation!
But perhaps, I think to myself. We have gone a little too far?
.
The products available in America are simply gorgeous. Tops that are  made so that you can create a multicoloured or multi-toned yarn incredibly easily, and most of the information is about spinning from pre-prepared and pre-drafted pre-everythinged( more about this later) rovings.  it seems as if all the work has been taken out of preparing wool prior to spinning, but is this a good thing? it is certainly very expensive to buy!
sheep

When I was teaching this ancient craft at a local college over 30 years ago, I felt that the most important thing was that people acquainted themselves with the basic raw product, I sent them off to pull fleece off barbed wire fences to practice with... to wash... to twist in their fingers to see how fleece Sorking in the sunactually works... what its properties are.  I felt it was important to bring in various samples in to show them what was a good fleece, or a fleece that wasn't worth wasting time on.

All this before they started spinning...and when they did, I started them off with a 'drop spindle' the spinning wheel came later. To really understand what is going on when you create a yarn I believe that it is important to know all about these things! I suspect there are new generation spinners out there who do not have this knowledge...and that is a great shame.
Hand spun fleece
I have no issue with commercially prepared and dyed tops...they are wonderful if expensive, but nature also provides us with a myriad of shades from black to white to brown to palest cream and many more in between, and mixing on carders or a drum carder extends this range. I have been given many really beautiful fleeces (and many rubbish ones too but often useful for stuffing!) and working on a good freshly sheered fleece is pure joy! So lets use them all! mix them, blend them and use the whole range that nature gives us!

(2016) Just a thought here....Whilst there are loads of beautiful and available 'tops' offered by many firms on the web, I notice recently that when you receive the tops there are often inclined to be dry...an experienced spinner would find this no problem, they would know to add a lubricant of some sort...but to a learner it could be quite frustrating so it is useful to have something at hand to help. I use a very very fine oil in a sprayer, and with very dry tops I spray a very tiny amount as I'm working on the tops, and it makes a tremendous difference. There isn't any special oil you can buy for this I am using the sort of oil that you can spray on hair to give it shine if it is dry, because I figured that hair and fleece are very alike and so it should not actually harm the fleece. I find it works very well but you may find something better! if so please let me know.

     handspun fleece from sheep

      (2016-2017) I have been looking at the range of implements that are now available to make fancy coloured yarns. There is a 'Blending Board' It comes with a tiny wire carder and brush. it is about the size of a double hand card, it is freestanding and on it you can blend small amounts of various coloured fleece or tops to make your own beautiful fancy yarn!

 The idea is a wonderful one! but it's something that I've been doing for years without knowing that I needed a 'blending board', probably because one hadn't been invented yet. (There's a missed opportunity if ever there was one!)  I notice that all these boards, and various firms produce them are very expensive, certainly over £100 and some much more than that! Well all this is fine if you're spinning is a hobby & that you can afford to spend a bit of money on it, but as a hard-working professional spinner, there is no way that I would have bought one of these beautiful things because I probably would never have gotten round to using it!... So if like me you don't have money to throw around, and like to use what you have... Here's how to do it.

Most of us have carders, and although the wires on them are not as fine or numerous as on the new blending boards. I have found standard good quality carders perfectly adequate for blending...Of course if like me you get slightly addicted to doing this and become totally in love with the fab yarn you can produce you may then wish to treat yourself to one of these blending boards.

Me? Im more of a 'Make do and mend' girl!

So using one card initially, carefully place little bits of fibre (I call them 'finger pinchfulls' as opposed to slack handfuls!) on one of the carders, arrange them all along the carder quite closely together so that you can't actually see the wires and the carder is fairly well padded. Now draw the other carder over the top a couple of times, or more if you need to.... in exactly the same way as you would for making normal rollags. But gently and carefully!.

The aim is not to transfer more than 50% of the fibre to the second carder and to have them with fibre that is smooth and in alignment. Try to keep the carders very much in alignment when you work so that you do not actually mix the different colours too much... which could make the yarn look muddy when it's spun up.

When you are pleased with the look of both carders, now is the time to take the fleece off them... And you will end up with two skinny but beautiful rollags.

Now I shall tell you the great secret to success! seeing me struggling with very fine bats and trying to remove them from the carders without destroying them, my husband came up with a wonderful implement that he just nipped out to the workshop to make for me! (cost pennies!)

Getting ready to spin!It comprises two pieces of wooden doweling about half an inch wide, and approximately 11 inches long, ( or the width of your carders) which he had sanded down so that they were really really smooth, and fastened together at one end with a strong elastic band! (Hi tec huh?)   Then when your two carders are nicely brushed and ready, Open the two doweling rods, without removing the elastic band, and slip them either side of the lose fleece on one carder, and then shut them together so that the fleece is trapped between the two rods. Doweling rollagsThen gently begin to roll up the doweling rods with the fleece to take off the carders and smoother them off either by hand or on the now empty carder.  This is the most useful tool imaginable! and I use it now to remove ALL my rollags from the carders. I shall soon be also adding more pic's and a short video to show you exactly how this is done. please don't try this unless you are a fairly competent spinner it is fiddly and the small rollags need care in spinning.

If you need fatter rollags use thicker dowling! ...SIMPLES!

Watch out on this page for more info...thoughts...and successes that have worked for me as the months go by!

SPRING 2017.

Having struggled for years with Lazy Kate's that are badly designed or in some cases simply don't work... you know what I mean? you are trying to ply 2 yarns together and the bobbins on the lazy Kate race around at a crazy pace...leaving you with a mass of tangled yarn. having only two hands it is almost impossible to un-tangled it all and still hang on to your plying! this leads to frustration... and high blood pressure!

 I feel that most Lazy Kate's are badly designed, the tall ones tend to fall over and have no tensioning device on them at all..in the days when Haldane wheels were on the go, they used to produce rather a nice Lazy Kate that worked better but was still not tensioned and so the same problem. and if you go for a Lazy Kate with a tensioning device it usually costs a small fortune!

Watching me get to the point where the whole lot almost got thrown out through the window, my husband disappeared into the workshop and emmerged a little later with a wonderful gizmo that he had made out of (get this!) scrap wood, fishing line, a cut down chopstick and a wooden bead (plus a few more bits and bobs)!  it didn't look particularly pretty but I could see at once how well-designed it was and that it would work!

 Having given it a test run I was jumping up and down in delight! Here was a very simple little device that you could stand on a table or a stool  next to the spinning wheel while you plied, once you got the tension right it worked like a dream! and it could be adapted for either two or three bobbins....so a little later this year my husband is going to produce some  to sell, that are of course made out of slightly nicer wood than an old pallet ha ha!  and finished off nicely...and they will be for sale on this website. It takes all the anxiety out of plying...it works calmly sensibly and smoothly.... just like my husband bless him! so later this year we will have for sale a wonderful little gizmo that is made largely of recycled materials, and will certainly not cost the earth! If you are interested in  having one please email me at: silvermoon@BTconnect.com and I will let you know when they are available.

I am so excited about this project! I have always loved intermediate technology, and this is intermediate technology at its very best I believe! x

Summer 2017

We will be holding 'Come & Try Saturdays' through out the summer at Hellygog Logie Steading Forres...bookmark this page for dates.

Just collected two lovely Jacob fleece last evening and a Suffolk too! Much as I love spinning with coloured 'tops' my real love is spinning freshly sheared fleece 'in the grease' Lovely for hats , gloves and winter woolly stuff! and a totally natural product which is almost waterproof! Cant wait to get them all sorted for spinning!

 

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