March 11, 2005

Singles, chocolate and spinners limp.

Tomorrow, Amanda leaves for Austria with her orchestra. I'm losing it. I have to tell you that every mothering instinct I have tells me that taking a 15 year old girl to the airport, kissing her goodbye and watching her get on a plane to another continent is insane. Completely batty. A few loops shy of a cast on edge...if ya catch my meaning. I've washed her clothes and taught her how to convert Euros to dollars, I've cautioned her about taking her money out in public and bought extra strings for her violin. I've told her everything to be careful about that I can think of and then I've told her (once I have her good and neurotic..) to not worry and to relax (carefully) and have fun. (I think Amanda feels that I may be a bit of a paradox at the moment.) We live in the city and I keep a close eye on my teenagers. I know where they are, what they are doing and who they are with. I know all. I see all. How then is it that this kind of completely fretting and bothersome mother suddenly hauls off and sends the kid to freaking Europe for two weeks? How I ask you? How?

I'm a little worried that I may have some kind of involuntary spasm of over-controlling parenting at the airport and find myself unable to let her out of the car. Worse than that...I think Amanda would be strangely relieved. She's nervous. I'm nervous. What are we doing? What kind of a mother won't let a kid date but sends her to Vienna? What sort of mother tells the kid "No bloody way" to a 10 o'clock movie but says "Vienna? Cracow? Sure sweetie, let me help you pack." I'm out of my mind, and I'm only getting weirder as the flight time approaches. I think that Joe's starting to think about taking me down with a sedative blowdart like something out of wild kingdom.

In between running around yesterday to get everything my 15 year old daughter will need while she is in Europe and not at home with me where I know what's going on...(sorry. It's so hard to let go) I spun up the singles from Laurie's roving.

I won't tell you how to spin singles. There's tons of information out there. (This site is amazingly helpful...they have film clips of how to do this stuff) I can tell you what I do differently for sock yarn, or what I do that I think might be unique or helpful.

Since I have the roving pre-drafted nicely before I start spinning, I get to go pretty quick through the pile of roving goodness. Socks get a lot of wear so I want the yarn to be durable. To this end, I try to put a little more twist in than I usually would. (Not so much that it's going to lose it's softness's a fine line and only experience can tell you where it is.)

Also, because I want the yarn to be very smooth, I hold back the twist with my right hand (the hand pinching...) and pull back with my left to control the amount of fibres being allowed into the twist at once, then slide my right (pinching) hand along to smooth the fibres and bring the twist. If I don't pinch, the twist travels into the drafting zone and my yarn is furrier.


In this picture you can really see the drafting zone. It's the fan of fibres in between my right hand (holding back the twist) and the left (pulling the roving back to thin the fibres.) My right hand is firm and my left is loose. If I don't keep it loose the roving bunches in my hand. Loosey goosey, barely touching. Note that this doesn't work if you weren't completely obsessive and anal retentive to the point of madness, cautious with your pre-drafting.
At some point in the very beginning of the spinning I stop, pull a length of singles back toward me and wrap it around my fingers like this.


Then I let go and let the three plies twist around each other. Doing this gives me a pretty good idea of how my navajo plied (which is three plies) yarn will look. I see if I'm putting too much (spinning "wire") or not enough (spinning something that's going to drift apart in the plying). I also give it a think in terms of thickness. Do I need to beef up the singles? Thin 'em out?
A smarter spinner than me would put this little sample nearby so that they could repeat this process a couple of times during the spinning so that they could have a little something called "consistency". Me? My middle name is danger. I do no such thing.
If I like everything I see I carry on.


You can see in this picture that I have a white cloth on my lap. This is a modification that I use...I have two spinning cloths, one white and one black. I use the lap cloth that contrasts my fibre because I don't see well. Someone suggested it to me early on and it's helped enormously. (Really Steph? Seeing what you're spinning has improved results?) The blue fibres I'm spinning here would be nearly impossible for me to see against my jeans.


Generally speaking I use the long draw method of spinning, moving my fibre supply hand (my left) back away from the wheel in a long smooth arc. You can't see it, but a thread of yarn connects my hand to the wheel, because I'm spinning sock yarn you can see that pinching/smoothing right hand following. If the fibre was crap (or if you skipped the pre-drafting) I wouldn't use the long draw. How far my hands are from the spinning wheel is a testament to Laurie's skills. Also a testament is the fact that I was just going to sit down and spin for a little while, but the roving is so beautiful and easy to spin that I just kept going until I was done. Today I have the most wicked case of spinners limp. It's not likely to improve either...since the urge to navajo ply it is overwhelming. (I'd rather not discuss the fact that I am apparently undeterred by physical pain and disability. Joe pointed out that even lab rats eventually learn that trying to get treats isn't worth it if pain results from the attempt. I have nothing to say to him.)

Search for spring (Attempt 2)
There is absolutely no naturally occurring spring here. I'm not going to depress you with pictures. It was -27 with the windchill the other night. I was seriously thinking about Belize again when I trudged through the falling snow to Lettuce Knit the other night. When I arrived, there was a package for me! Lynne sent me some spring!


Among other things...Lynne tucked in these lovely springtime rovings. She's right too...I do feel better. I could suggest of course, that the reason that I feel better is because me and my stitch and bitch buddies hoovered the entire package of Aussie cookies that she sent before they even hit the table.


Tim Tams (not to be confused with the Newfie "jim jams") are darned good. There was some talk of "Slammin a Tim tam" (cell phone calls were made, details were gathered...Canadian common sense prevailed and we just ate them rather than risking some sort of Australian cookie daring-do that could endanger the cookies.
Thanks Lynne, for restoring my faith in spring.
Tune in Monday when we discover if I made a scene in the Airport, if Amanda made a scene in the airport, if I have managed to lay off the spinning enough to regain full use of my right leg and to see navajo plied yarn.

Posted by Stephanie at March 11, 2005 12:05 PM