Am I ever happy that I took the plunge on a made (by me)-in-Ontario wool blanket! How could you not love having this to work with?
Love, however, gets you only so far with a project like this. Fine-tuning my process has helped tremendously, and I am sharing the tweaks with you, today. Simply adding denim under the comb’s clamps has been great. It not only gives huge grip & protection but also gives me visual contrast. That indigo is a welcome relief from white wool seen against the white ceramic floor tiles! Getting a clean combing is so much easier now.
Another tweak is with the flick card sitting there on top of the waste bucket. With clean & largely sound tips, I am just flicking the cut-end of most locks before loading the comb. It speeds things up. As does flicking while standing – I hold locks tightly twisted, and flick into thin air. No lap-cloth; just bouncing and slightly combing against the grip.
By using the flicker again on the waste from combs, I keep the seconds for the hand-cards (later, much later!) and compost the rest.
My focus is to do same-day spinning. Two passes in the combs is good for this wool. I use my lignum vitae Tabachek diz (see: the 1st picture, lower left) to pull the top. It is 3/32″, and is so cool for this job. Smooth, strong, and a pleasure to hold.
As gleaned from Robin Russo’s video, I am now using a clean sheet on top of my anti-fatigue mat as I diz the wool from the combs. Catching it cleanly has helped the spinning too.
The main challenge is to keep moving forward. This is intensive work – both in terms of time and labour. My 6th bobbin has 7 lengths of top so far. It is logged on a project sheet that I keep on the dining table.
Keeping it real is key here. My Watson Martha wheel is the spinning tool, and it will be on this exclusively for the duration. Although the bobbins are larger, I am spinning 18 lengths of top for each single using Scotch tension, and a cotton knitting yarn for the drive band. There is a small sample from my first spinning that keeps me mindful not to draft the top too thin as is my wont.
Nothing that I have described here is beyond my ability. Everything is unless I stay the course. This is why I am thrilled to have my friend Beth Smith’s new book, “The Spinner’s Book of Fleece” land just at the right moment. Beth gets fleece to yarn, and then to the projects that she maps out methodically. As a former workshop student with Beth, I knew that the technical side would be well and gently covered. On my chosen breed, I learned at p. 135:
Romney wool is considered to have demi-luster, which means it has some shine but not as much as some of the Leicesters or Teeswater…
What leaps off the pages are the projects and samples. They are light at the end of a tunnel. Here I am working 5 days to get one of these 2-ply balls of yarn for my project. It weighs 105g.
Having Beth’s voice reinforce truths like, “Spinning is not an end in itself,” on my coffee table is that special help. Her handwoven images and notes are invaluable as I inch towards my goal of weaving with my handspun yarns. This élan of working in unique but logical ways with fibre is egging me on. Beth is the friend who asked why I had more fleece stash than projects. I am glad that I could listen to quiet urging, and for the kind words in her autograph!
Before I go back to the combs – big thanks for all the support about Toby that poured in after my last post. He seems to be doing better this week but occasionally has seizures now.