Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Shetland Spinning

I have been making some big plans lately. I’ve decided that my house is too cluttered. In my attempt to simplify my house, I started going through my fiber stash. This year I committed to use a lot of my stash but I haven’t done much with the fiber I have collected over the years.

I discovered a pillowcase filled with a beautiful grey soft looking fiber. I was almost heartbroken that some of it appeared to be felted. This fiber had been in my stash washed over several years and I had not done much with it, except to toss it around from bin to bin as I sorted and resorted this fiber over the years. Yet, I could not give up on this fiber. I wanted to salvage this beautiful alpaca-looking fiber. I was picking through the fiber and trying to loosen the locks. I finally ended up using a Louet single row comb or hackle to untangle what I could. These midevil looking devices that look like torture tools, help to align the fiber, making it somewhat separated and able to be drum carded into batts which followed. From the batts I was able to start spinning. Its a lot of work for just a pound of fiber.

As I worked with this fiber, I realized this was not alpaca at all but possibly Shetland. How I knew this? It has a long staple with guard hairs. This is a double layer coat where the long tips are darker and courser than the downy undercoat, which is soft. I had heard that Shetland fiber makes nice gloves and socks, so I planned to spin it thin but had some trouble getting a consistent thread. I changed my mind and started over, spinning it to a slightly thicker using an easy forward draw technique. I changedthe ration to the lowest on my Ashford Joy which is a ratio of 6 spins/ per treddle. It seemed to make a better single this way. I experimented with several techniques….the long draw, the back draw. The only way I could get any control of the feeding of the thread was to feed 2 in at a time after 2 treddles. The yarns is coming out very soft.

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