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Spinning is bad for your health

April 17, 2008 @ 6:07 pm
posted by kris
Filed under: spinning

The very first skein!
The second skein – went much better

I wrote this huge post and then accidentally pressed a button in my browser and poof! It was gone. I was so angry and upset. That’ll teach me to save my posts! So here is my attempt at a 2nd post.

So let’s back up a bit. Remember when cauchy09 sent me a drop spindle and I tried it and hated it? Well, I still do. BUT I have always said that I think a spinning wheel might be funner. I kinda put spinning out of my mind for awhile until I knitted up cauchy’s handspun that she sent. Then it started my mind thinking again of spinning. But I knew a spindle was not for me. It’s too slow, and I am super impatient.

Then, I did a swap with Micki and I pretty much just exploded. I spent many nights looking at fiber and handspun and wheels and what not. I bought a lot of fiber and sent it to a couple of friends who are kind enough to spin it up for me. But that wasn’t enough.

I remembered that the Wollmeise used to spin so I asked her if she still had her wheel and if she was using it. She doesn’t have time to spin anymore so she uses her wheel as a reskeiner for the worsted weight yarns. And, lucky for me, she is done dyeing for awhile since she has a market coming up as well as a trip to the states. So I get to borrow her wheel for a couple of weeks and see if I like it or not.

She brought it over on Sunday since she hung out with us for the podcast (as well as bringing over a box full of yarn to take pictures of). She and Elem made a short demo on how to use the wheel and I tried it and it was HARD! Being new to drafting and all, I got lots of bulky slubs and crazy thick and thins. I played with it all night and the next night until 3am and was able to get a fairly even single. I played with all kinds of different fibers – from super coarse to some german merino (which was HARD for my beginner hands). And then I was semi-successful with some space dyed pencil roving merino (?). I was so excited and didn’t want to stop! I had to take a break for a day to edit the podcast since so many people were hounding me for it!

I came back to it the next day and was a little sad because it took awhile to get back into the groove. Ah well. I noticed that every break I take, I have to re-acquaint myself with the wheel to get the same consistency. The longer the break, the longer it takes!!! Kinda sucks, but that’s how it goes when you’re a beginner. Another problem I had was that I would always make the wheel go backwards so I learned when I start I have to push the wheel in the direction I want to go so that I don’t mess stuff up. I have the normal other beginner problems – overspinning, letting the spin get into the draft zone, not dividing up the fiber beforehand, etc. I also have the problem that I can’t “feel” the yarn when it gets to a particular thinness – say laceweight? And I don’t pinch hard enough so the spin goes right past my fingers. :( But I think practice practice practice will do it.

So that’s why spinning isn’t healthy – not because it’s a sitting activity but because I’m not eating or sleeping! It’s only because I have this wheel for a limited time and want to make every second count! I am soooo going to get a wheel and luckily it is my birthday month. :) I haven’t decided on which – I want to try Elem’s Kromski to see if I like it (yeah, chances are pretty slim that I won’t!). I think I know 3 people with the Kromski Minstrel and everyone seems very happy with it.

Some questions I have for the pros:
1. Is it necessary to let your singles get stale before plying? Do I also need to let it get stale after/before skeining?
2. When I have an “enthusiastic” plied yarn – is it because of the singles being overspun or is it because I overplied?
3. When setting the twist, do I need to soak the skein? Or do I just wet it and rinse?
4. If I get a double treadle, can you use it as a single treadle? Or do you have to do both feet?

I’m sure I have more questions but those are the only ones I can think of now.

I want to thank my spinning enthusiasts who encouraged me to find this new obsession: cauchy09 for the spindle, handspun and daily inspiration, The Wollmeise for lending me her Louet S15, Elem for answering all my rapid fire questions and for hand holding me through the first steps, Micki for her handspun and really making me go nuts for spinning. Also to Fbz and Linnea who are spinning up some yarn for me while I wait to get a wheel for myself!

Comments (11)


Comment by Jessica

Made on Thursday, April 17th, 2008 @ 6:43 pm

Hooray, another spinner! I’m so glad you’re getting the hang of it. I can take a stab at your questions, but I think these (except for #2) are mostly a matter of personal taste in spinning.

1. I try to let my singles rest on the bobbin overnight before plying, because then when I’m plying they don’t get tangled up so much during plying. But I plied fresh singles just the other day, and lightning didn’t strike (I can also get impatient)

2. I think a little of both? I’m not sure on this one, because I almost always overply my yarns. I just don’t care for a loosey-goosey ply.

3. I usually soak the skeins, but I don’t think you have to. Again, I’ve skipped this step in the past, knit with yarns without setting the twist, and nobody died. You just might get a really springy, energetic fabric.

4. Tried this on my ladybug, and the answer is yes you can, but I personally find it more difficult to spin that way, because of where the orifice is located.

Comment by Shannon

Made on Thursday, April 17th, 2008 @ 9:30 pm

Fun! Your spinning looks great! you are going to love it! I’ll give you my take on your questions too.

1. No, not necessary at all. I have heard some people say it is a little easier though, but I cannot corroborate that. If I am plying singles together I usually try to have them both active or rested though. If you let your “active” single curl/twist back on itself you can see how it should be plied. If your single has rested it will not twist back on itself for you to see what that ply should look like. But – you can break a piece of the singles off and wet it in a sink or bowl of water. As it is laying in the water you can see all that “activeness” come back and what a balanced ply should look like.

2. Could be both or either one of the two. You can tell by which way the skein/hank twists. If you spin clockwise (also called S twist) then you ply counter clockwise (z twist). Once you set the twist the skein should hang straight. If it turns clockwise it was too much S twist (overspun) or if it twists counterclockwise it has too much z twist (over plied).

3. I soak the skein and lay it flat to dry. Some fibers draw the water in at different rates and I’ve read that you get the best set if all the fiber is wet. I do lay the skein flat to dry. If you hang it to dry. try not to weight it. The weight may make the skein appear more balanced but any extra twist will return if the yarn gets wet again.

4. If you have a true double tredle wheel, I think it will be more work. I have a Lendrum Double Treadle. It is NOT a true double treadle wheel and I find it fairly easy to operate with one foot. But it is still a little easier using both. When I use both feet I can get the wheel going faster with less effort.

Just keep trying things until you find what is comfortable for you. I know you’ll have a lot of fun!

Comment by Shannon

Made on Thursday, April 17th, 2008 @ 9:39 pm

Sorry – I made a mistake above. You usually spin with a Z twist and ply with an S twist.

Comment by Stacey

Made on Thursday, April 17th, 2008 @ 9:44 pm

Aw – I’m so tempted – smart to borrow a wheel first to decide if it is worth the investment and if you’ll like it! Your first bit are gorgeous!

Comment by Micki

Made on Thursday, April 17th, 2008 @ 11:16 pm

A spinner is born! Those first skeins are quite nice.

There have been some great answers to your questions already, but I’ll try to add a little:

1. No, you don’t have to wait, especially if you have a tensioned lazy kate, but lots of spinners find it helpful to let the singles rest a bit before plying.

2. My plied yarns almost always seem “energized” when I skein them off the bobbin. It can be because of overplying/underplying, or it can be related to how long the singles have rested before plying. If you ply with old singles, there may seem to be more plying twist than singles twist, simply because the singles had time to settle down for a bit. A bath will help even everything out.

3. I like to soak, but you don’t have to do it for long. 5-10 minutes can be sufficient. Once I’ve squeezed out most of the water, I usually give my skeins a few thwacks against the shower wall. That helps even out the twist as well.

4. Exactly what Shannon said: Some double treadle wheels can be operated using one treadle. Although my DT works this way, I almost always use both treadles. I feel like I have more control that way.

Comment by cauchy09

Made on Friday, April 18th, 2008 @ 11:37 pm

Hooray! Yeah, exploring the fiber is what eventually got me hooked on spinning. I’m so glad to see you spinning, no matter what equipment you use.

It is very important for you to experiment and determine the methods that work to produce the yarn you want. There isn’t just one way and one yarn that we all ought to pursue.

1. I have plyed both ways: rested and unrested. It does make a difference in how I handle the singles while plying, but no difference in the final yarn. I would suggest spinning the bobbins of singles in quick succession so that they rest the same amount of time, although you can get an interesting 2-ply with one strand resting for months and the other resting just one day.

With a Navajo (chained) 3-ply and with single-ply yarns, I do let them sit on the skeiner for a couple of days before bathing to control the coils a little.

2. It depends. But unless there’s some mad crazy corkscrewing going on after plying, there’s nothing to worry about. There is a tendency to focus on “balanced” yarn and that shouldn’t be judged until after the finishing wash. There’s a great article in this month’s ‘Spin-Off’ about this…

3. Depends on the fiber. With most wools, I soak in woolwash for at least 10 min in lukewarm water, wring lightly, thwack a few times, and then hang on a doorknob to dry. Some fibers can stand more than this and even bloom with a quick light felting with a dip in a cooler bath after the warm one. Other fibers are delicate and need more care.

4. Hmm, I’ve never used a DT.

Comment by alala

Made on Saturday, April 19th, 2008 @ 8:40 pm

Sigh. Another knitter, lost to the Dark Side. On the bright side, soon you’ll have too much handspun, and you can sell it to me, because what you’ve done so far is gorgeous.

Comment by aija

Made on Sunday, April 20th, 2008 @ 11:01 am

I’m not a pro ;) but…

1. Is it necessary to let your singles get stale before plying? Do I also need to let it get stale after/before skeining?
I don’t let my singles sit before plying them. I know some spinners do… but I read somewhere that the environment working on the singles, taking the “life” out of them is the air– and the humidity and environs doesn’t get past the initial layer on the bobbin, so waiting doesn’t matter. That’s not the reason I don’t though– I’m lazy ;)

2. When I have an “enthusiastic” plied yarn – is it because of the singles being overspun or is it because I overplied?
It could be either– you can tell by the way the skein biases how much “overtwist” is in the yarn and/or singles, twisting z or s. Whichever way it biases, compare to how you spun your singles and you can figure which. Fwiw, my skeins almost always bias to being overplied… I spin mostly sock yarns and “overply” them for a tight twist. Finishing the yarn in a hot soak and hanging to dry will often rid any chronic twist, though the yarn may bunch a bit when you’re knitting and pulling it off of the ball. Teyani (intrepid fiber wizard) has a few blog posts about how she encourages overplied sock yarns for the Sock Hop line… eye opening about plying :)

3. When setting the twist, do I need to soak the skein? Or do I just wet it and rinse?
I let it soak, usually in hot. The soak will help the twist distribute evenly across the skein. I just soak though in kookaburra– no need to rinse. (Same w. eucalan.) My handspuns are usu. superwash and acid dyed, it will matter when selecting temp and finishing… if you’re working an artyarn you’ll need to modify the set too (some won’t hold well under a long soak, etc… intertwined gives times for setting the artyarns she showcases.)

4. If I get a double treadle, can you use it as a single treadle? Or do you have to do both feet?
It depends on the wheel. I have a ST matchless and I can use both feet to push the treadle when I’m feeling lazy :) I really like single treadle since I don’t sit “straight” at the wheel but at an angle– it’s personal though.

Good luck, and welcome to the dark side! :)

Comment by Elemmaciltur

Made on Monday, April 21st, 2008 @ 12:45 pm

1. Is it necessary to let your singles get stale before plying? Do I also need to let it get stale after/before skeining?
– Not really….you might just get annoyed with the singles tangling up though.

2. When I have an “enthusiastic” plied yarn – is it because of the singles being overspun or is it because I overplied?
– I don’t know…I would say it’s because of over-plying.

3. When setting the twist, do I need to soak the skein? Or do I just wet it and rinse?
– I think you really need to soak it, especially if it’s very energised.

4. If I get a double treadle, can you use it as a single treadle? Or do you have to do both feet?
– Depending on the kind of wheel you have. Like I said, I can use my Minstrel as ST…although it’s hard to find a rhythm and your calf can get a bit of a workout.

When do you think of coming around then? I even have time tonight…and I should have time tomorrow during the day, too.

Comment by Linnea

Made on Tuesday, April 22nd, 2008 @ 10:10 am

Since everyone else has already answered your questions with much more clarity than I can provide, there is only one thing left to say:


Comment by wiscjennyann

Made on Tuesday, April 22nd, 2008 @ 10:41 am

Huzzah for spinning! Pretty pretty first skeins; can’t wait to see more!

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