It is nice to be finally home on a weekend and able to do whatever I want… (or at least what ever Isabelle will let me do). This weekend I continue working with the alpaca fibers by spinning them and plying them. Here are the related previous posts:
- Weekend with a Llama (Inky Dinky Do… actually an Alpaca)
- Avocado Dye and Inky Dinky Do
- Weekend Carding Alpaca (Inky Dinky Do)
If you haven’t read the previous posts and don’t feel like doing so here is some background… the alpaca fibers came from Inky Dinky Do (that is a name of an alpaca) who lives in England and likes to be hugged… He/She doesn’t have a blog but his/her owner does and it is worth checking out… especially if you want to learn how to butcher a pig head or A.I. a pig (and A.I. doesn’t stand for artificial intelligent… it is another “I” word… ) As a young farm kid, after watching “A.I.” at the dairy behind my house I remember telling my friends that my mom had just gone through the same thing. She had just recently returned home from a doctor visit and announced that she was going to have a baby. My older wiser friends tried to explain to me what had really happened but I refused to believe my parents could be involved with something so disgusting.
hmm… I get off topic easily… here is the blog I was trying to mention.
After carding the alpaca fibers it is time to spin the rolags.(from the scottish gaelic word roleags.) Hmm… “spining the rolags” sounds kind of cool… almost street. I might not have to lie to my co-workers Monday when they ask me what I did this weekend. I can just look at them and say… spun some rolags.. add a wink and then say how about you. And as long as they don’t google it or ask me what it means I might pull off some fake street cred.
Back to the point… I didn’t know that small rolls of fiber were called rolags until I was left a great comment from a “real” fiber artist – Leonor. She also mentioned that I should try to keep the softness by doing a “woolen spun as opposed to worsted spun”… (after looking up “rolags” I had to look up woolen versus worsted… I feel like such a novice… from what I learned it is easy to tell the difference between the two… if it is woolen spun you can break the yarn with your hands.)
I watched several videos on YouTube but was not able to really catch on… actually I kind of understood but am not talented enough to do it. I imagine if NSA is spying on all of my different YouTube and Google Searching they are scratching their heads… I definitely don’t have street cred with them.
I decided to stick with what I know and that is to spin using this “bottom whorl” drop spindle. I don’t think I have outlined a”how to”… so here are the basic steps for spinning with a drop spindle. (describing it is kind of tough)
- Pull out fibers and spin into small leader thread… (hand spin clockwise). Create a loop and put loop in the hook. Drop the spindle and start spinning it. This will close the loop. Now you spin the hanging spindle with your right hand and pinch the fibers with your left. You should always spin in one direction… clockwise if you are cool like me.
- When you have a tight spin you stop spinning and move your right hand just under your left hand and pinch the thread. With your left hand now replaced by your right you pull at the un-spun fibers stretching and thinning them out to a consistent amount. This is called drafting and it takes practice. I learned that you have to gently pull and the distance between your right hand and left depends upon the length of the fibers.
- Once you have drafted it to the right thinness pinch at the top of the draft with your left hand and let go of the right hand. The spin in the thread below will travel up the newly “drafted” fiber twisting it up to your left hand. I repeat the process over and over… kind of inch worming and “draftin” through the un-spun fiber. I often will “park” the spindle in between drafting. Parking is putting the drop spindle between your knees or feet and not letting it undo the twist in the fibers. When you park you need to make sure you keep tension on the twisted fibers.
- Once you have a couple of feet you unhook the twisted fibers and tie them at the base of the spindle this is where all of the yarn will be stored as you are spinning. You almost have to see this to understand and I recommend watching this video on YouTube: (this is the first one I watched)
Once I have spun enough.. (this is really and arbitrary decision) I put the single thread yarn on this copper tube niddy noddy that I built. (The first time I heard someway say niddy noddy I thought they were making it up… who is coming up with all of these weird words.) In the past I didn’t do this and I found that the thread had so much kinetic energy that it would twist and knot up on itself… it was very difficult to work with…. when it is washed and dried this way it sets the spin and evens out the twist. The yarn will be calm and well behaved now. (I wished there was something to take the “kinetic” energy out of my kids… )
The next step is to ply the yarn. This means twisting several single yarns together. I have never done more than two and I use the same drop spindle. This is very simple. You spin the two yarns together in the opposite direction of what they were spun. (Counter clockwise) I inch up the two singles almost in the same way that I do when making a single but instead of drafting I make sure they two singles are tight and not twisted… I then wash this on the niddy noddy let it dry and then twist it into a skein.
Here is the first skein of Inky Dinky Yarn… died pink from avocado pits. I like this color but it is really a “dusty” pink. I decided to try to get a “pink-ier” pink… and since my wine was a big flop wondered if I could use it to dye some fibers. ( Wine Making (Final) … kind of an expensive dye… ) I am going to make some Inky Drinky Do yarn.
I followed the same process as the avocado dye but added vinegar to the wine to make it acidic and had to follow the dyeing with several rinses since the wine had sugar. I then carded,, spun and 2-plie some of the “pink-ier” yarn with the avocado yarn. (Here are the pictures)
I now have two skeins of about 45 yards (I know they are small… no mocking please). I will continue until I have enough to make something… not sure what… yet… but Isabelle has been teaching me to knit so I imagine I am going to knit something. (I think I just lost more street cred).