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June 17, 2014

I have been told that I can be stubborn. I would like to think of it more as being determined. I like a good challenge and enjoy the satisfaction that comes with a hard win. Case in point.

I am currently working on spinning up some fiber and it is proving to be a bit difficult. My goal for this fiber is to not only spin thin, but also to spin soft. I have finally started knitting with my hand spun and have noticed that I seem to have a tendency to produce things akin to wire. This time it is going to be different. This time I am going to produce some lovely, soft and thin yarn.  I had manged the softer part a few times before and I knew I could do thin, so with my goal in mind I set to work.

The fiber is a braid a Malabrigo Nube and is composed of 100% merino. I purchased this (and another braid) from my LYS a while ago and decided that it was time to take it on. Thinking it would be a rather simple and straightforward project. Unfortunately it is fair to say that this fiber is kicking my butt.

photo 1 (5)

The first bobbin is seen here, looking so innocent, but in reality it is about as difficult as trying to get a teenager up early on a weekend.  My big issues seem to be not only having the fiber slip out of my hands (as merino likes to do with me) but I am also struggling to keep the consistency of the singles going. The thinness sometimes gets too thin and snaps, or I end up getting a bit too thick and the spin just gets absorbed into the slub.  I had heard a little bit about how this fiber is often compacted (which is definitely true in my case.)  Of course I heard of this after I bought the braids and after I started spinning this one up.  Another big thing for me is that I am still not used to spinning on Gertie (my Honeybee double treadle.) I get the concept of treadling slower, but the actual execution proves to be a bit out of reach.

I had recently brought the wheel (and the fiber) over to knit night, in an attempt to not only publicly shame the fiber into behaving, but also to seek help from those wiser in the fibery ways. They had great suggestions, such as lowering the tension (which is apparently a big problem for most spinners.) The ladies were encouraging and helpful even as they watched me struggle with the fiber. . After the fifteenth time of  having the fiber get away from me I ended up giving up for the rest of the evening, and instead just enjoying the company of people who get what it means to be kicked around by some wool. I am not afraid to say that there was a suggestion of possibly giving up on the unruly stuff and either ditching it completely or perhaps threatening it a bit by moving on to something else.

While these were and are great suggestions, the fact of the matter is I won’t be able to give it up. At least not yet. I am determined to finish this bobbin at the very least. After I got home that evening I started spinning again, making a point to not only treadle slower (at least that’s what I attempted to do) but also making sure my tension was a little looser, and things seemed to be going  a little better. Although I will admit I may have taken out some other fiber and placed it nearby, you know, just to show the fiber who’s boss around here.


From → Spinning

  1. Out of curiosity, what makes a spun yarn harder or softer? How tightly it’s twisted?

  2. pdranch permalink

    One thing I have learned in working with roving is that the fiber spins differently from the two opposite ends. If spinning from one end is really difficult, try spinning from the other end. It works for me.

  3. So this is something that helped me a lot with my new wheel. I would just sit and treadle while I watched TV, purposefully going faster, then slower, not even trying to spin. I think it really helped me get to know my wheel a lot better.

    Also, with really compacted fiber, I pull a few teensy tufts out from the tip of the braid, and make a little fiber sandwich, then I spin from that. It gets air into the fibers so you get something nice and lofty. I don’t know if this will be helpful as I haven’t been a spinner very long, but I know you can do this! Nothing wrong with being a little stubborn.

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