Sunday, April 27, 2008

A Day to Spin

I know it's been a while again...I realized yesterday, as I was sitting at Saturday morning knitting, and today, as I woke up not having to BE anywhere, that this weekend is the first weekend in about two months that I haven't been dual booked for both days!! I have been doing quite a bit of knitting, but my spinning has definitely been left behind. Today I've remedied that.

I was fortunate to receive a wonderful piece of 1/4" thick leather last weekend with which to create new bearings for my Antique Saxony. Last night I made up a new one for the broken back bearing - this morning it was dry and I was able to try it out. The plying (of the Alpaca that I started at the Spin-in in St. Augustine) went ok. The drive band was still slipping off very regularly, but not quite as bad as it's been in the past. I finished up that bobbin and wound off ~155 yards . It was washed and hung out to dry (lovely warm breezy day outside, it dried in no time!). Here's what it looks like:

After that was off the wheel, I took it apart, made a new front bearing, and also spliced a new drive band. The old band had a knot in it that I'd put in to shorten the band because it was outside the tension range of the wheel. I'm hoping that two sturdy new bearings and a well spliced drive band will fix all the ails of this lovely wheel.

Since I couldn't do anything more with that wheel until the bearing dries, I decided to take Phebe for a whirl. Took off the cop of brown/white variegated that I spun on her way back when. Found a ball of not too compacted white wool in a box...nothing special. Spun that up. Removed that cop and decided to get brave and try plying on her. The verdict? I LIKED it! Almost enough that I might think about plying on her more often - even things spun on other wheels. The technique is basically the same one described by Riverrim. You'll notice that the drive band crosses around the spindle. This allows me to continue to turn the wheel clockwise, but the spindle will now turn counter-clockwise.
Riverrim has done some experimenting with tensioning her cops, but I'll admit, I didn't bother. Here's my back-hand and the cops. My index finger is between the two strands, controlling the ply and straightening any of those little overspun knees. The box kept the cops contained pretty well initially, though they did start hopping around a lot at the end when they were much lighter.

Ultimately, the two strands came out pretty even. The white was a few yards longer and I Andean Plyed it. I was not comfortable with this technique, as the hand holding the yarn in an Andean ply can't really tension the yarn at the same time because the yarn is constantly flopping around the hand as it unwinds. I have no problems with Andean when I can tension with my right hand (see the Alpaca from today).

Here are both of today's yarns side by side. The alpaca has been washed, the wool had not when this picture was taken, as I was concerned about loosing the natural light that I prefer to photograph yarn in.
I did notice that the wool (about 73 yards) was MUCH coarser than the alpaca. I washed it with a bit of hair conditioner and it is currently outside hanging to dry. Not sure what it might eventually become...but for now it's the very first finished yarn from MY Great Wheel!

ETA: The Antique Saxony is back in one piece, and with a couple of well placed wedges, it seems to be working well!! I had a problem early on, but then realized that one of the wedges had fallen out from the bottom. Since that one had already fallen out twice recently, I replaced it with a piece of balsa wood that is better wedged and shouldn't fall out. And it stayed on track thereafter!! I'm thrilled that it's working well, and will also take the precaution of getting a small portable hammer and taking leather and balsa with me the next time I take it on the road (Going to my first SCA event on Memorial Day Weekend - looking forward to it!!).


angi said...

Hi Knitchick! My name is angi...i stumbled upon your blog and am excited because you seem involved in the knitscene in orlando--where i live--and i'm dying to meet some other knitters! i've lived in the orlando area not quite a year and am a fairly new (but obsessed) knitter looking for some knit stuffs. I went to the links...but couldn't find, for instance, when or where NYGK met. Could you point me in the right direction? Sorry to write a novel...thanks so much for any help you can offer!!!

Batty said...

So pretty! The darker one makes me think of toffee. Caramel. Yum.