Plying the 980 g of natural white Romney lamb’s wool is making my week. You may have heard me use the word, ‘obsessed’ when I posted this picture on Twitter? It has come as a surprise.
For one thing the singles flow evenly from the plying ball. Both strands feed together to my hands. The holding pen for the ply ball is a tall Piroline cookie tin to my right. Quiet, gentle, stream-of-spinning time.
This is the smaller whorl for my Watson Martha wheel. The larger of the two ratios is working well with the Scotch tension braking the bobbin. The rhythm slows a little as I get to the bobbin’s capacity of around 110 g of the yarn. It’s just a matter of paying closer attention to the winding-on since the yarn can jump out of the hooks as the bobbin gets full.
My blue click reel from the Ramer Collection has made winding-off, and counting such a breeze. The click still makes me jump (and Melvin glower) but she has a beautiful logic! Each round is 90″, and the click is at 120 revolutions. That measures 300 yards or a linen weaver’s lea! One lea in the yarn count system is 300 yards per pound.
A small hurdle after cleaning her up lightly with diluted Murphy’s Oil soap was the floppy jointed spoke. My substitute collar is 3 strips of Velcro. It’s yet another application of Janet Dawson’s floor loom weaving class on Craftsy! So far with the braced reel’s help, I have around 1,500 yards of 2-ply with more to come.
Plying with Andean pushkas
The medium and large size Andean turned low-whorl spindles are my plying tools of choice for my spindle projects. With practice, I am getting better at using them comfortably with larger cops.
This is the plying that I started in early September. It was a 3.2 oz set of batts from Enting Fibercraft (shetland/merino/tussah silk blend), and I made 497 yards total here. The larger skein at the top is 304 yards. This yarn measures 24 wraps per inch or what I class as a light fingering weight.
The leisurely spin of The Painted Tiger’s hand-dyed braid of Shetland wool with my new Moosie came out at over 2,900 yards per pound! The first plying ball gave around 249 yards.
The second skein came in at 494 yards! I was also giving a high plying twist because I would like to weave with the yarn.
I launch these spindles in the Andean style that Abby Franquemont taught me in her “All Spindles All Day” class. Winding is more efficient as the cop grows, and the spindle goes amazingly fast as well.
Fast-forward these few years, and my set-up is still very simple. I place the plying ball in a small clay flowerpot that is on the floor behind my left hand. I ply standing-up on an anti-fatigue mat. When I came to Abby’s class, I was (barely!) able to butterfly with my non-dominant left hand. Switching the butterfly was key, and Abby taught me the next steps: set & release the half-hitches with my right hand; and the launch for my typical Z-ply twist.
To compare a large shawl project that I spun with spindles, and is on our current TKK banner, above – the largest skein measured 366 yards. It is the fluidity that has improved. This is what I look at with expert spinners. Even watching another spinner’s motions can give your practice a subtle shift.
Getting to the place where plying sings is helping me complete even less-focused projects. At least these past few weeks it hasn’t been akin to watching paint dry!
Speaking of seeing spinners, are you going to the Woodstock Fleece Festival on Saturday? It’s a great consolation for not going to Rhinebeck. Hope to see some friends, and to succumb to fibrey temptation!