Wednesday, April 23, 2008

I used to be good at math....

When my father gave me his old spinning wheel, he included the lazy kate and 3 bobbins. This worked great as long as I was spinning 2-ply yarns, but left me unable to spin 3-ply - I needed at least one more bobbin. At the last Vermont Sheep and Wool Festival, I picked up two more bobbins and happily spun my first 3-ply yarn - some alpaca that I spun and hand dyed in shades of blue as a Christmas gift for my mother-in-law. (It turned out beautifully, but I didn't think to get a picture. Argh!)
I don't know about other spinners, but I've never had my bobbins of singles come out even when I'm plying. In the case of the alpaca, I had singles left on two bobbins at the end of the project. (What with the pressure of Christmas fast-approaching, I skeined what I had, dyed it, and called it good. About 250 yards, as I recall.)
As I mentioned in a previous post, I washed a good-sized handful of cotswold fleece, carded it, and started spinning singles. I was trying to get something a little thicker than sock yarn for a change, so I worked hard at making my singles thicker, and planned a nice fat 3-ply yarn. I filled one bobbin, then another, then started the third, all the time eyeing the 2 bobbins of alpaca singles and thinking "Oh, no problem. When the time comes, I'll just ply those off real quick, and be ready to make my 3-ply cotswold. Good thing I bought those extra bobbins!"
So, there I was, 3 bobbins full of cotswold, 2 bobbins each 1/4 to 1/3 full of alpaca. I sat myself down at my wheel, ready to roll.
Anyone spotted the problem yet?
I own 5 bobbins. I have 5 bobbins loaded with singles.
What on earth did I think I was going to ply those singles onto?
After I finished pounding my head on the wall, I realized there was nothing for it but to ply the alpaca off onto a handspindle. After a brief search (anything less than 3 hours is a brief search, in my book...) I finally located one of my spindles. (For the record, it was in a plastic bag, tucked inside another plastic bag full of handspun laceweight being knit into a shawl, tucked inside another plastic bag full of alpaca roving, tucked into a box full of UFOs, under a box of odd balls of worsted weight yarn. Easy peasy. Once I eliminated the other 42 bags and boxes, of course.)

There, dammit! Plied at last!
(Note: this is one of my homemade spindles - I used a little wooden wheelie-dealie from Michael's, an old paintbrush handle with the business end pried off, and a miniature cuphook. I figured there was no sense investing a fortune in spindles until I decided whether or not I even liked spinning. And then, of course, I was used to spinning with my homemade gizmos, so there was no sense in buying anything fancier. I prefer to think of myself as frugal, though I have heard people mumbling "cheap" when they thought I wasn't listening...)

And now, I can get on with the cotswold!

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