Though it’s late in the day, I’m still feeling inspired— this week about books. There is almost nothing I like better than diving into a brand new book, especially if it’s a book that’s going to teach me cool things.
|The Intentional Spinner by Judith MacKenzie McCuin|
If you only every purchase one book about spinning or about fiber in general, please let it be this one. I was utterly surprised to find that the entire first half of the book is solely about the nature of fibers. I was familiar with much of the material (thank you, Knitter’s Book of Yarn!) but the way Judith presents it is fantastic, it’s a very clear, concise crash-course in fiber characteristics and how they affect finished yarn. And although I knew the basics already, it was chock full of great stuff I hadn’t known. For instance, the viscose method for making cellulose fiber from plant material, called viscose or rayon, involves a ton of nasty chemicals while another cellulose fiber called lyocell, marketed as Tencel or Seacell, is produced using a much more eco-friendly method. I know which one I’d rather use! Also, the book has flow charts and diagrams and lists of fiber characteristics that appeal to my scientist’s heart. I know I’ll be referring to it often during my spinning career. Here’s a decent review with some more pictures, if you’re interested.
As for spinning instruction, the book gives a quick background on fiber preparation (combing and carding) and while it assumes you know the basics about how loose fiber turns into yarn, it does give a great summary of the differences between worsted and woolen drafting and spinning and how the two styles differ. There’s a great chapter on diameter control and a whole bunch of information on plying and how to create different novelty yarns, which I didn’t think I’d ever use but now it’s got me wanting to try to make a chained yarn and see what happens! The DVD it came with started with plying, which is fine but I could’ve used more information on drafting in general. However, the DVD did teach me one important thing:
See how the ends of those two bobbins are different sizes? Well, the driveband of my wheel attaches directly to the bobbins, so the size of the bobbin affects how quickly it turns and how much twist is added to my yarn. If drafting and treadling speeds are held constant, a larger bobbin end will result in a thicker yarn with lower twist while a smaller bobbin end will result in thinner yarn with higher twist. I did not even realize the bobbins were different sizes nor did I think that they would affect the yarn I produced until I watched Judith’s segment on diameter control and looked at the bobbins side by side. It did explain why I had so much trouble keeping the yarn size consistent on one of the bobbins, though.
There are definitely some underspun sections in the resulting 2-ply, but I love it all the same. Plus, this yarn went from fiber to finished in exactly 4 days, which is pretty exciting! Does anybody else have tips or good resources about using wheels to produce particular kinds or sizes of yarn? Wheels are every so much more mysterious than spindles and I’m wondering how many more ‘duh!‘ moments I should expect during this learning process…
What’s been inspiring you lately? Link your blog below and let us know!