Friday, January 8, 2016

Lucy's First Fleece - Part 3

A little of Lucy's first fleece was washed and waiting to be spun. I teased out some locks and brushed them into fluffy clouds, called rolags, using my hand carders. The carders are flat brushes covered in bent pins. They separate the fibres in the locks of wool to enable them to be smoothly drafted into wool yarn during spinning. Using the carders took a little practice before I could produce rolags without clashing the pins together in a tooth-jarring, spine-grating way.

The spinning wheel was set up, oiled and ready to run. I had watched countless YouTube videos on the art of spinning. I had practiced winding a ball of cerise pink acrylic yarn onto and off the bobbin successfully. So I sat down at my spinning wheel one evening, palms a little sweaty, ready to begin the real thing. It took a few false starts to get the wool fibres to twist successfully  around a starter piece of yarn wrapped around the bobbin, but then I was off and away, pumping my feet vigorously and watching the fibres twist and wind away from my fingers and onto the bobbin.

Just as I was getting the feel for the process, the wheel ground to a halt and I had to use my right hand  which was supposed to be controlling the twist in the fibre to get it turning in a clockwise direction while my feet pedalled as rhythmically as I could manage. My uncoordinated hands fumbled the fibres a bit until they started spinning again and then the wheel stopped. After trying repeatedly to keep the wheel turning and the yarn forming, my hands moving in rhythm with my feet, I crossly noticed Decadent Dad laughing at me as he watched from the corner of his eye. Red faced and muttering under my breath, I snapped at him while the yarn snapped in my fingers. If this was spinning I hated it and I couldn't do it. It was difficult and tedious and frustrating. What a wasted birthday present and now I was overcommitted with this enormous fleece and all this expectation to do something creative with it!

Decadent Dad, in a moment of pity, investigated the spinning wheel and declared that he could help me, which he did. The following day he ground down the too-tight axle so that it would turn smoothly in its hub, re-oiled the wheel and so I was willing to try again. This time the spinning wheel behaved as the fluff of fleece in my left hand twisted through the fingers of my right hand and wound their way onto the bobbin, forming my first real length of single ply woollen yarn.

 I was ecstatic. The more I tried, the easier it became. I had managed to make the beginning of something looking like wool. It was thick in places and thin in other places, sometime overtwisted, but it was a beautiful continuous strand. This was starting to get exciting. My fickle feelings forgot the previous night's despondency.

I can spin.

Spinning is fun.

I have a whole fleece to spin.

Will I have enough wool to make something lovely?

Lucy is the best sheep in the world.

.... to be continued