Spinning workshop (part 2)

Last Saturday I attended the second part of the spinning workshop. Sadly this time I forgot my SLR camera at home. I realized it when I was already at the metro, but at least I had my cellphone with me. It was just a pity that I was going to work with spinning wheels for the first time in my life and my camera was at home! I have to say that the drastic weather change gave me a bad migraine so I guess I have an excuse. I had to take painkillers and the teacher explained that those were not very good for coordination, so no wonder my spinning didn’t go very well.

The first thing we had to do was just pedaling and nothing else, and then get used to pedaling while doing something, talking, singing, … The teacher learned in London thirty years ago and she told us that her first time she had to pedal while singing a song about parts of the body and touching those parts.

Then we started to spin combed wool and later on the carded wool we had prepared the week before. I don’t know if it was the headache, the painkillers or the weather, but I found problems coordinating my hands and foot. It’s one of those things which requires a lot of practice.

After having some yards of wool we proceeded to ply it and these are the mini-skeins we made.

One of the girls was also plying using the drop spindle. I takes much longer, but I think that’s going to be my next step at home. I still don’t feel very comfortable with the spinning wheel and I find the drop spindle very very relaxing.

Carding wool

Lala gave me some fleece after the spinning class of last Saturday so that I could practice during the week. I tried yesterday after work and I think I’m improving. My biggest problem is that I don’t fill the carder with enough fleece before starting. It’s like I’m in a hurry and I don’t stop to take my time to do this task properly.

In my first attempt yesterday, like other times, I thought the carder was full enough:

But the result was quite poor:

The second time I tried I put more fleece on the carder:

And that led to better results:

Like most of handwork, it’s not difficult, but it requires practice.

Spinning workshop (part 1)

Last Saturday I attended the first part of a spinning workshop. The complete workshop is 7 hours and it runs on two consecutive Saturdays, so we’ll have the second part next Saturday.

Lala came to the shop where the workshop was organized, fully loaded with fleece, fiber in several states, drop spindles and cards. I was very exciting to be surrounded by so much wool while listening to the explanations and Lala’s wisdom. She traveled several times to the UK to learn about this since the tradition is almost forgotten here. She explained the full process from the sheep to the finished wool and also explained a bit of why we don’t have very good quality wool in Spain nowadays since the merino sheep is originality from here. Sadly knitting and other wool crafts are not really trendy here and the traditions are being lost, keeping the sheeps only for their meat and their cheese. Other countries, like Australia, New Zealand, Argentina or Uruguay, have kept the traditions and have improved the first merino sheeps arrived from Spain. It’s such a pity that all is lost here.

In the wool process, the oiling is a very important part. The lanolin, present in the wool from the sheep, should be removed if you want to store the fiber, in order to prevent it from catching moth, but later on we need to oil it again before carding it and spin it. The recipe is 50% of any oil and 50% of water, and it has to be sprayed on the wool, and then wrapped in blotting paper to absorb the excess of the mix. Normal newspaper could be used for this.

We were then spinning with traditional drop spindles, a little bit different from what we find in shops. The spindle I recently bough is a bit more modern and I find the shape of the traditional one a bit more difficult to use (the circle is on top in mine and at the bottom on the traditional), but perhaps because I got used to mine. I observed that with the traditional spindle you use it while standing up and you do everything at once being careful to be coordinated. With this method you don’t do the “parking”. I found very difficult to work like this and kept spinning like I was doing at home, grabbing the spindle like mine, and finding the shape of the traditional spindle a bit awkward. All in all my spoon wool was almost perfect and very thin. It was clear that it was not my first time. In the meantime the other two girls were having a lot of trouble.

The carding was another story. It was my first time and I completely suck at it. One of the girls enjoyed it very much but I had troubles to know when I had enough fleece on my cards and then to coordinate my hands to do it right. I bought there a pair of cards and Lala gave me some fleece so that I could practice this week at home. I need to get over it! Carding can be a messy process. The fleece is already washed once, but it still keeps twigs and other stuff, plus the oil or lanolin, so an apron is needed and the floor has to be cleaned afterwards.

In the next class we will be plying our wool and we’ll experiment with spinning wheels. I can’t wait!

Edible Flowers

I had problems yesterday to be at ease and the night brought with it some more insomnia again. In the evening I couldn’t even focus on knitting a simple and boring scarf and I started spinning for a little while again. I think I’m getting the hang of it and I can now get a thinner and more even yarn than before.

As I’m still learning I watched a couple of videos related to spinning that can come in handy at some time later:

How to do hand carding. Prepare the wool for spinning:

[youtube=www.youtube.com/watch?v=rDqY2mLooIw&NR]

How to use a  niddy noddy. What to do with your handspun yarn:

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QdS4lZMcqGI]

This morning the orchid my mother sent me for my last birthday decided to let open the first of its new flowers. This one arrived a bit more than fourth months ago, so this is very good news. The previous one took exactly one year to bloom again and I’ve even heard of cases where they never got flowers again. It seems this one is happy in its corner of the living room. I never thought that orchids could enjoy the dry weather we have in Madrid.

[youtube=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zUKf-RNoAN4]

New adventure

With enormous desires of learning new things this year and a secret crazy project on my mind, I’ve been searching for an online shop where I could buy this:

Spin4

Oh, yeah, I really want to learn how to spin. I tried an online shop that I already knew but they’d ran out of initiation spinning kits. After searching a bit I found another online shop in Spain which also sells spinning kits at a fair price, and without thinking twice I made my order.

It arrived yesterday and I couldn’t wait to open it. It contains three kinds of fiber: wool, merino and dyed merino; a drop spindle made by Ashford; and written instructions on how to do it, including a link to Youtube:

[youtube=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tLH52mH9_9U]

When I first opened it I was very afraid to touch it and ruin the wool. I was very pleased with the woolly smell filling my nostrils, which reminded me a lot of the smell of the Cascade Eco Wool that I used for my Owls. I should now learn to use it and nothing better than Youtube to find more educational videos. This is the first of three videos and I totally recommend them:

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fM3YwWg1EvE]

Despite the initial fear, after watching the instructional videos, I couldn’t stop myself from starting to play with my new toy:

It looks a bit fuzzy, but I’m not too worried. I should get better with some practice. I’ve already learned that as I’m a beginner, I should atenuate all the fiber before starting to spin, since it’s a crucial step and it’s difficult to do it even while you’re busy spinning.