Saturday, January 8, 2011

Did I finish the second sock this week? Pfft, of course I didn't, that would be way too sensible. I did get some spinning in though, since I finally replaced the driveband of my spinning wheel. The drive band is basically the bit of string which translates the motion from the big wheel to the flyer and the bobbin. The bobbin is the big spool which collects the yarn, and the flyer is the bit with pegs around it.

As you spin, the yarn is wound onto the bobbin because it is designed such that it rotates slower than the flyer. Technicalities of wheels aside, the string snapped on me sometime before Christmas, and believe it or not (I for one found it hard to believe), amongst all my crafts supplies I had no plain string. I finally rectified this situation on Wednesday, then spun up some roving I bought at Pippa Blue here in Galway. I've talked previously about predrafting fibre before spinning. To briefly reiterate, this means teasing the fibers apart length-ways to give a thinner fibre, rather than just a thick sausage of fiber with the briefest hint of twist (thinner fibers need more twist to keep their tension. This twist is what you're introducing in the act of spinning). Both my spinning book and a lot of tutorials I've read have not bothered with predrafting, but instead instructed you to develope the knack of drafting the fibre as you spin, using one hand to regulate the yarn being drafted out, while the other hand determines how far down the length of fibre you allow the twist from the wheel to travel. It was this somewhat magical ability (as it seems to me) which I was practicing when my driveband snapped, and perhaps it was for the better, as I was getting incredibly frustrated. I just could not get the hang of this drafting as you go business. At the time I thought the tension of the wheel (i.e. the tension in the driveband, which is regulated by a number of parts which can be adjusted) must be playing a part, and it was while I was fiddling with this that the string snapped. Anyway, when I replaced the driveband I decided to forget what I was 'supposed' to be able to do and just do it the way that worked, predrafting the fiber before I span. My spinning technique still needs a lot of work - I have every tension from corkscrew tight to knackered-wrist limp in this sample - but at least I had fun this time.

I then tried to ply this with some white Blue Faced Leicester I'd spun previously. When plying yarns, you twist them in the opposite direction to the direction with which you introduced the spin (other wise you'd just be spinning the already spun fiber even more). So as I turned the wheel clockwise to spin, I would turn anticlockwise to ply. The turning of the wheel went alright, but for some reason then my bobbin wouldn't pull the fabric on as it plied, so I just ended up wiht the first ten inches or so getting incredibly plied, as all the twist had nowhere to go. I was reluctant to fiddle with the tension of my wheel as it had been fine for spinning. I cut my loses and resigned myself to plying by spindle sometime over the following weelk.
I've also been continuing with the needle felting I talked about last week. One of my sisters said I had to make her some art, given that pieces from my other sister and one of my brothers are already gracing the walls of her living room. It was with this in mind that I started the project below, using thick black felt and some pink mohair I've had for at least two years. It may or may not be her birthday present come this March - it depends what the finished piece is like. Either way, it won't go to waste, because as we all know, I loooooooove anatomical hearts.
I further indulged my heart obsession this week when supposedly cleaning my room. Upon stumbling upon my box of fabric paints, I freehanded this. The free handing is obvious - the top left vein is crap and I left out a whole ventricle - but I think I like it none the less.
Right now I have a lemon tart in the oven, which I've never cooked before, so wish me luck. Have a great weekend everyone.


  1. Oh gosh, you spin! My cousin in Maine who also has her Irish citizenship has a sinning wheel. I will send her the link to this post. I am here because of the Follow My Blog swap on Swap Bot. Glad I am! My grandfather was from County Kerry.

  2. The twist is groovy and twisty! Can't wait to see what you turn it into :)