Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Spinning Update...

Well, we did it! I mentioned in my "Spinning a Yarn" post that B & I were attempting to make a skein of yarn together (to be put to nefarious uses... heh, heh). We finished filling the bobbin on Monday & B's drafting really has improved, although I think he now likes to make big blubs in the yarn because I named them "rabbits" (sigh). After sitting on the ball-winder overnight the yarn was "tame" enough to ply yesterday after school. The process resembled what I imagine the Pushmi-Pullyu from Dr. Doolittle would look like if it tried to ply yarn on a spinning wheel... to ply from a centre-pull ball of yarn, you tie the ends together, tie them to the bobbin-leader, then treadle the wheel in the opposite direction from the way you spun the singles, pulling out the yarn from the middle of the ball & the outside, let these 2 strands twist together, & run them onto the bobbin. Oh, I also count my treadles, after testing a bit to see how many make the yarn well-twisted yet pleasing, to make each length that I pull from the ball evenly plied. Okay, now imagine the two of us, not linked telepathically or anything (very much...), co-ordinating this process. B manned the treadle & I was responsible for the wool/bobbin interface. Our first mistake was my forgetting to tell him to treadle in the opposite direction... once that mess was discovered & sorted-out, we had to test & count treadles, which meant a lot of starting & stopping. After nearly knocking the wheel over by stopping it too abrubtly, we discussed methods for gradually slowing it down (using proper terms like friction & decceleration of course :). We finally found the proper rhythm & could actually chat while plying, although my brain's hemispheres felt a bit stretched by this. B told me that his class is playing a version of the popular computer game "Oregon Trail" in Social Studies, only not on the computer, & the kids have all been divided up into teams who are provisioning themselves to take a covered-wagon journey. I asked him if his team had brought a spinning wheel & he began to giggle, saying that they had, but at first they had thought it was a wagon wheel!

We finally got to the very end of the ball & B got a kick out of seeing it just disappear into a final strand of yarn, then be sucked into the orifice of the wheel & onto the bobbin. I got out the niddy-noddy, which is the tool at the top of the picture & wound the plied yarn onto it while we counted the turns so we could calculate the yardage, which turned out to be 75 yards! I tied the skein in a few places to prevent tangling & then B wanted to hold the niddy with the yarn on it. He swung it around & declared that it would make a fine Bionicle tool... :) We slipped the skein off the niddy & weighed it (55 grams), then I ran a basin of hot hot water for washing. B used the end of our sink-brush to stomp the yarn into the hot, soapy water (I commended his enthusiasm, but stopped him before he felted the skein...) & then we went off to watch a movie. Later, I showed him the cooled-down wash water ("gross!") & we ran the rinse water. After being spun-out in the washer & hanging to dry overnight, the skein is soft & sweet-smelling (lavendar dish soap) & ready for nefarious purposes...

At dinner, B told his dad all about plying the yarn saying loudly, "I just don't know what we'll be doing with all this yarn, though." with a not-so-subtle wink to me. He did this a couple more times until C just cracked up & called him "Mr. Subtle". "What?" says B,"I like winking...". Hee, hee... y'see we are planning to use the yarn to make dad's birthday present (it's in early February). And we're half-way there!!


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