Friday, April 07, 2006

Tips for spinning samples for very fine yarns:

Here are two of the tricks I "unvented" while continuing to sample for very fine yarns. Most of what I've been spinning is finer than laceweight when plied. More about statistics in a later post.

Very fine yarns don't take up much space. I use minicombs to comb a lock, then draw it off the comb into a very fine top without using a diz. After doing this with two locks, I head to the spinning wheel which is set up with the smallest whorl and scotch tension w/ a very light touch on the brake band. After spinning one lock, wind the yarn from the spinning wheel bobbin onto the bobbin for a weaving shuttle. Then do the same with the second lock.

By doing this, you don't have to take the spinning wheel apart, mess around with replacing the bobbin and whorl and readjusting the brake band and tension on the spinning wheel.

Judith MacKenzie-McCuin talks about winding yarn onto storage bobbins. This is really an adaptation of that concept.

I've never been very fond of this two bobbin weaving shuttle, but it makes a great Lazy Kate for plying laceweight samples!! The wooden shuttle provides just enough weight to keep the bobbins stable, and I haven't had any problems with the bobbins freewheeling. If you're a weaver and don't have a two bobbin shuttle, two separate boat shuttles would work just as well.

The next idea allows one to stop plying mid-bobbin without getting the fine yarns hopelessly tangled:

Just use a small butterfly clip to clip off the twist at the point where you need to stop. (Sorry for the soft focus on the clip & yarn...I hope you can see it.) It keeps the twist from heading toward the bobbins and the yarn between the clip and the bobbins stays at a mild but consistent tension.

I was amazed that this worked. Of course one must make sure that the resident cat is occupied elsewhere if you plan on leaving the room with this set up.

Speaking of resident cats...did you noticed my newly adopted Cleo in the sidebar. I thought that if I had a pet on the blog to attend to, I'd get to the blog and update it more often. Hasn't worked so far. I just come to the blog, pull out the ball on the fishing rod and play with Clea when there doesn't seem to be much to say. Then Jazzy notices what I'm doing, jumps up in front of the monitor to try and catch the ball too.

Answers to Questions in the Comments:

Cathy: I've been making the near gossamer weight yarns in 2 ply. After sampling with the Shetland singles in the Wedding Ring Shawl
kit from Sharon Miller, I'm sure I want a yarn with more stability. Since there are so few fibers in a gossamer weight thread, a ingles yarn drifts apart easily when repairing mistakes or ripping back. So 2 ply seems to be necessary for sanity.

Persian Pen Name: the most important thing in spinning a gossamer yarn is starting with the finest fiber available. So far my favorite has been superfine merino top which is above an 80's count. The raw fiber that I've been working with isn't quite so fine. Just from the feel and looking through my 30x microscope, I'd bet these raw wool locks I'm playing with are in the 60's count range. Anything larger than that is not going to make a gossamer weight yarn. It will be more like wire.

Cassie: Alas, Carole's 2006 clip is headed for Frankenmuth to take advantage of the "before April 16" sale on washing, carding, and spinning. She'll probably have some of it made into roving and some of it spun there. So you no longer need worry about temptation.

That's enough for now. More on the knitted samples with the handspun later.


  1. That's an excellent idea! Now maybe I'll sample more often.

  2. You are BRILLIANT!!!!

    I inherited a double shuttle with one of my looms and have never much cared for them. I have been using a very home made lazy kate thet I stole from the kids K-nex box. I like the idea of using the double shuttle. So far I have only been spinning on a drop spindle (and no where near even lace weight) and winding my yarn off onto spare bobbins any way. My shuttle (home made and HUGE) should have enough weight to hold them. Thanks!

  3. I like the double shuttle idea - not that I weave or anything - and I love the butterfly clip idea too. I have small round velcos on the side of my wheels to attach the yarn to - but plying has been a different matter. I agree with 2 ply the cobweight. I spun rambouillet fine enough to cable 40 wpi - but don't know if I want to make anything of it. I rather enjoy looking at it and smirking. That's as fine as I intend to spin and ply. Maybe you will inspire me :-)


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