Friday, 16 January 2015

Analysis Paralysis

(I wrote this post on about the 10th January, however it sat in my drafts for one reason or another. I will write an update on my spindling shortly, as I've made some progress, but wanted to post this anyway.)

Spinning has been on my mind a lot of late. I'm obsessing over looking into buying a wheel at the moment and I've finally got an invite to the Southern Cross Fibre club! I asked to be on the waiting list in August 2012 and got the invite just a few days ago. Of course I'm signing up as I know David's fibre is gorgeous and I really like a lot of the club colour ways I've seen. 

The other reason it's on my mind though is that I'm trying to enjoy spindling again. As I said in this post I'm finding it frustrating. I hadn't really worked out why at this point though. It was definitely something to do with the stop start motion and winding on and so on but I wonder if it's more than that. On Thursday I dug around in my stash for some samples from the Phat Fibre box I got quite some time ago. A beautiful violet batt from Luthvarian Fiber Arts jumped out at me, begging to be spun. It's a blend of corriedale (which actually I've never enjoyed spinning), merino, silk, bamboo and firestar. The colour is called Wild Violets and you can see a picture of the batts here.

To try to understand where my frustration in spindling lies I decided to go and watch as many YouTube videos on support spindling that I could find, beginners or not. Although I had done this when I started but I  found some different ones. Normally I sit with my support spinning bowl to my right, I use my right hand to flick the spindle and my left to draft the fiber. A lot of the videos started with the spinner having their spindle bowl in their laps; I had never found this comfortable but thought I'd try it to see if it helped get me out of my funk.

Digging out my Spanish Peacock pocket Russian spindle I tried starting with my bowl in front of me. At first I found that it hurt my shoulder so I adjusted the way I was drafting to try to make it more comfortable. After a while it occurred to me that perhaps I just prefer spinning batts on my spindles. Could this be it? Is it easier to spin top on a wheel than on a spindle? What are your thoughts on this? I feel having both hands on the fibre might help control it better but am I wrong in this?

I took my spindle in the car with me on Friday morning and happily spun away on the batt until I arrived at work. After work was finished, and I was waiting for a friend, I picked up the spindle and spun for a few minutes...Saturday I took it in a taxi and got a little more done and then Saturday afternoon I finished and plied the batt. Overall I'm not sure what it was that made that experience much more enjoyable than my spindling of late....
  • Was it the batt? I definitely found it easier than spinning top; perhaps because I wasn't so worried about it drafting out evenly across the top? 
  • Was it the spindle? It's a lovely spindle but it's a Russian like many other of my spindles and all are from reputable makers so I'm not sure. I also don't think it's the length of the spindle. 
  • Was it the new bowl position? I need to try this out on my other spindles to know for sure. 
  • Was it the wool? Corriedale has a long staple and maybe that's part of it. The polwarth/silk top I'm spinning is easy to draft but the top is difficult to manage as when I was splitting it in half I pulled one of the halves apart in some places.

Whatever the reason I really enjoyed this spinning and am going to keep trying to overcome my frustrations with my other spindles. I would love to hear what fibre preparations you prefer spinning and why.

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  1. I use mainly Tibetan spindles because they spin for much longer than Russians. I also love spinning long draw on them. You don't need both hands on the fibre to spin woollen, in fact it's preferable, however I do a sort of modified long draw, where I control how much twist travels up to the fibre in my hand. This is an adaptation of how I spin worsted style on my spinning. I find my Tibetans all manage to spin without supporting it on my hand. The spin and balance is so good that the spindle is held upright by the fibre flicking off the top, this gives me free hands to draft in a short backwards draw to get worsted spun fibre. If the spindle wobbles I catch it on the side of my palm, which is out of the way of the fibre. I've seen a video of Fleegle spinning on a Tibetan Spindle and she rests her spindle on the crook of her little finger, again out of the way of the fibre, leaving most of the rest of the hand free to control the fibre. I think the answer lies in maybe getting a Tibetan which is slower but spins for longer. It gives you more time to work out how to best balance the spindle, your hand movements and fibre control. I still struggle with Russian Spindles but am happy with my Tibetans and my wickedly fast Bead Whorl Spindle from Spanish Peacock. Hope that helps a little.

    1. I have a Tibetan spindle that I'm enjoying spinning on and do agree that it's easier to control the fibre with the longer spinning time. The fibre I'm spinning on that spindle is a camel/silk blend however, I haven't tried any wool tops on there yet. I need to try that to see if I find drafting any less frustrating on that style of spindle. It will be interesting to compare. I've watched the Fleegle videos but hadn't paid too much attention to where she rested her spindle. I'll have to try that to see if it helps.

  2. It would be very interesting to see a video of how you spin on your Russian spindle.

    1. Thanks! If I'm feeling brave one day (and other people would be interested) I may put a video up on the blog!