Experimental Spinning

I am working on a commission job, a pair of historically accurate pair of handspun, handknit socks for a gentleman who does mountain man rendezvous. I started with about 9 ounces of washed locks from a Romney cross fleece. It was a pretty gross fleece, not at all skirted and full of veg matter, but it makes good sock yarn. I’ve been sitting and picking it by hand for a while, then ran it through the Patrick Green carder in 2-ounce batches.

Recently, I saw a Youtube video on pulling roving off the PG, so I decided to give that a try. As long as I was playing, why not see how the different preps spun off compared to each other, right? I prepped 6 ounces, and did one as a batt, one as roving drawn off the carder, and one as a roving pulled into roving by hand from the batt.

     I know, boring pictures. I spun them all on my electric spinner. Not as fun as the wheel, but the bobbin is much larger, so it’s no problem spinning and plying a single large skein.

 This is the single, and this is the yarn plied 

My observations are pretty straightforward – I couldn’t see any differences in the finished yarn. Most of that is probably that I’ve been spinning for a long time, and fine yarns are a specialty of mine. I did notice a few things though.

I started with the batt first. I spin from batts a lot. I rarely bother pulling strips off the batt, just manage how the fibers enter my hand. In a very colorful batt that may require paying a lot of attention, depending on how I want the colors to blend (or not). Color was not an issue with this trial, of course. Veg matter was easily flicked out with a tap of my finger as I spun. This took the longest to spin, but there was no prep time after the carding.

Second up was the roving I pulled off the carder. Granted that this was my first time doing this, but I was not impressed. There were a couple of things that I didn’t like. First, I don’t clean the drums on my carder every time, so there is always a bit of stuff left over from previous batches. Not a problem when I’m taking off batts. I may get a fiber or 2 that lift off with the batt, but they are easily removed later on. When I was pulling off the roving, I noticed that a lot of the those base fibers were coming off in the roving, and they were pretty firmly imbedded in it. The second problem was how long it took me to pull the roving off. It wouldn’t have been as much of a problem if I could have done it sitting down, but I had to stand, which really made my back unhappy. Thirdly, I could not get a consistent size roving, and it broke in 3 places. This may just be a matter of experience, but given all the other problems I don’t know that I’ll work on getting better. The last problem showed up as I was spinning – the veg matter was firmly imbedded in the roving. I would have to stop and pull it out.

Years ago, I learned how to pull a batt into roving, and this was my favorite of the three preps to spin. I can pull a consistently sized roving fairly quickly, seated in my comfy chair in front of the tv. Because I pulled it off the carder as a batt there were only 2 fibers that didn’t belong (both angelina), and the veg matter flicks out easily. It was the fastest to spin, but if you figure in the time spent pulling it out I don’t know that it saved any time over just spinning the batt.

Now on to the knitting. These are going to be big, boring socks – size 13 and calf high! But I’m getting a ton of hay out of the deal, delivered, so it’s worth the work.

This morning when I took grain out to the creep I tried getting fleece pictures from the lambs, but they weren’t having any of that. This is the best picture of the lot, and you can see how fuzzy it is. The babies were not at all cooperative!

 I’ll try again when I halter break them all after weaning.

But I did get some decent shots of lambs. At one point all the lambs were in the creep. I am no longer the big, bad boogeyman their mothers told them. They don’t all come up for cuddles, but I can scratch everyone from behind at least.

 It’s hard to get a good picture of Merlin, since he is sure I’ve got a bottle hidden somewhere. He’s down to one bottle a day, but he is an optimist every time I come out.

 When I first poured out the grain, Malcolm had the farthest bowl to himself, while 7 lambs were trying to fit around the nearer bowl. Silly children!

 Then they all shifted, and the 4 blacks lambs had this bowl to themselves.

 Mary is the last one to one to get the hang of the creep, at least in my presence. Not that she really needs the grain; she is the biggest lamb of all.

 Manny is the biggest boy (also the oldest). Pretty sure he will be going to fairs for showing this summer. Love when they naturally set their feet nicely. Still haven’t decided who the 2nd ram will be to show, but there’s time for that later.


One Response to “Experimental Spinning”

  1. Leigh Says:

    Very interesting post (and I forgot to mention, congrats on being asked to judge at Black Sheep Gathering! What an honor). When folks argue over the “best” spinning methods, I always think well, no one’s going to be able to tell by the results.

    Your lambs are so cute. Amazing how quickly they grow.

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