I have found the comments to my last several posts, especially Spinning the Cheviot, very interesting for two reasons. First, the experience others have had with Cheviot. Since this has been my first encounter with it, I find your opinions very informative. In my research about the breed, I noted that Cheviot are a white fleeced sheep, so it is interesting that my sample was light gray. Considering the softness of the white fibers in the sample, I have made a mental note to explore the fiber more at some point in the future.
The other comments which I find interesting are those about spinning itself. I have long held that there are different types of spinners. My theory is that there are those who spin by feel, intuitive spinners. There are those who spin from habit, rote spinners. And then there are those who spin according to specifics, technical spinners.
Intuitive spinners amaze me because they simply spin by “feel” and consistently create beautiful, appropriate yarns. Rote spinning is something I think we all have a tendency toward, because it is easy to simply spin out of habit, the result being the same yarn no matter what we're spinning. Technical spinners pay attention to things like fiber length, crimps per inch, twists per inch, twist angle, etc to create their yarns. Of course, in the end it's the yarn itself that matters, so who is to say that one way is better than another. I think it depends on what one wants out of spinning that makes the difference.
I didn't know any of this when I first learned how to spin. I purchased a spindle kit via mail order, which included so many ounces of roving and a how-to booklet. I set out to learn as soon as it arrived, following the written instructions as best I could. I really struggled with drafting and the resulting size of the yarn. This is my first handspun:
It is Lincoln, and as a singles yarn, it averages about 4 wraps per inch. It never did get plied. It sat around in a box for a number of years because I had no earthly idea of what to do with it. Eventually I made a braided wrist distaff with most of it.
This first yarn left me discouraged and feeling that I just wasn't getting the hang of the process. So I decided to purchase Melda Montgomery's drop spindle spinning video. What a revelation that was. I learned that I could actually pull the roving apart into narrower, more manageable sections and predraft them. This gave me the beginnings of the much needed control I had struggled for. I started to relax and enjoy myself. Once my singles were more manageable, I learned to ply.
This is my first 2 ply yarn and it became my first ever project from my handspun, a winter weight crocheted vest, which I still wear.
Once I got a taste of successful yarn, my appetite was whetted and I ordered more videos. This was where I was introduced to Patsy Zawistoski and Mabel Ross. From them I began to realize that it was possible to use the characteristics of the fiber and my spinning wheel in order to control the process enough to create whatever type of yarn I chose, for whatever purpose I wished. This appealed to me and I started to hunt out Mabel Ross's books.
It seems that there is a tendency of new spinners to try to spin finer and finer yarns. As I gained control of the process, I wanted to do this too, I think because somehow I felt it would prove that I was no longer a beginner. Much to my dismay however, I found that in spinning fine yarns, it took a very long time to fill the bobbin. Then it took another very long time to ply it. And after all that, it took a very long time to knit. This didn't suit my personality. I wanted quicker results! So much for fine yarns.
Soon I settled into a comfortable worsted weight size yarn spinning and I became pretty much a rote spinner.......
These were comfortable to spin and comfortable to knit.
This was fine until I got Angora rabbits. Yes, I could spin their fiber the same way I was habitually spinning, but the very nature of angora demanded something different, so I had to renew my acquaintance with the technical aspects of spinning.
As I gained more control of my spinning, I began to experiment with different sizes and styles of yarns. Eventually I dabbled some with designer yarns....
.... though I really think I'm a plain vanilla spinner.
Interestingly, the more attention I pay to the technical aspects of spinning, the more intuitive it seems to become. Perhaps this is the familiarity of experience? Now, if only I could make the same transition with my weaving!
Posted 13 Feb. 2007 at http://leighsfiberjournal.blogspot.com
Spinning The Cheviot