Tuesday, November 04, 2003

Spinning Wool 201

That was the title of my workshop at SOAR. (For those of you unfamiliar with SOAR, it's an acronym for Spin-Off Autumn Retreat. Spin-Off is a magazine published by Interweave Press.) So anyway, see that it says wool in the title? I didn't read the course description correctly and thought that Spinning 201 would give me an introduction to fibers other than wool (like silk, cashmere, alpaca, etc). This led to a little disappointment on my part when the workshop began. However, about 5 minutes into it - I knew it was the exact workshop for me.

I took a spinning/natural dying class many years ago that taught me the basics of spinning and gave me a chance to spin on a lot of different wheels with a lot of different fibers. The problem is, I didn't appreciate all the differences because I was just trying to make a decent yarn that held together for more than 5 seconds.

This man:
is Rudy Amann. He taught me more in a couple of days than I have managed to figure out in all the years I've been spinning. If you ever get a chance to take a class with him - do it. He is kind and patient and encouraged us to ask questions and make recommendations to make the workshop better.

I have an entire ziploc bag full of samples that I spun in the 3 days. I didn't take pictures of all of them (how boring), but I will include a few.

The 2 brown skeins on are Polworth, very bottom is spun worsted style and the second one from the bottom is spun woolen style. The 2 white skeins are merino, again, bottom one is spun worsted and top is spun woolen. Here's the difference, when you spin worsted, you're trying to get a nice, smooth yarn. You do this by keeping the twist out of the drafting triangle and smoothing any errant fibers down as you pull from the fiber source and allow the twist to come into the yarn. With woolen yarn, you're trying to trap air between the fibers resulting in a soft, lofty, springy yarn. Here, you let the twist advance into the drafting triangle - no smoothing. You can tell the difference best with the Polworth samples. The top one looks a little fuzzier.

These 2 skeins were both spun worsted style. The difference is that I spun the bottom one on day one of the workshop and the top one was spun on day 2. The differences don't show up very well in the photo, but believe me, you can see it when you hold the skeins. This is what I mean about learning from Rudy - I improved about 50% in just 1 day!

I've already been trying out some of the techniques he taught. I'm planning my first spin to knit project on the Sasha Kagan sweater featured in the latest Interweave Knits. I'll talk more about it later in the week, but I'm working on sample skeins right now in the evenings and I'm pretty pleased with what I'm doing. THANKS Rudy!!

On another note, here's my favorite classmate:
This is Tracy, the Diet Pepsi Queen. She saved me from having to spend $1.50 on inferior product (Diet Coke) by schlepping out to a grocery store to buy Diet Pepsi - and then she shared with me. Tracy's a lurker here - tell her how much fun it is to leave comments!

Here are all my other favorite classmates:
Don't we look like we're having fun? Seriously though, it was a terrific class. When Rudy had extra fiber bags, everyone wanted the Polworth (spins like a dream). He only had 5-6 bags left (for a class of 14). Several people said, "Oh, that's okay, let someone else have those, I'll take something else." We made Rudy divy up the bags and we were all happy with the extras we received. I was stunned - no one got cranky or hostile - what a cool group!

No comments: