Thursday, March 26, 2009

Woolen vs. Worsted Spinning Class @ Verb

This past St. Patrick's Day, I attended an Advanced Spinning Class at a Verb for Keeping Warm. Kristine Vejar (entrepreneur, spinner, dyer) led the class and presented the different types of fiber preparations (top, roving, batts, rolags, etc.) and how they are more suited for worsted or woolen spinning.

We started off with a little show & tell. Most folks had wonderful fiber to share, but I only had my latest spindle. I know, I know, but in my defense, I ordered this spindle back in October of 2008. Tracy Eichem is a respected artist in the world of spinning art and his work has been featured in Spin-Off magazine as well as spinning books like Twisted Sisters Sock Workbook and even at the Men's Fall Knitting Retreat (thanks, Ted!).

Kristine gave us handouts that had a graph which depicted the preparations and their corresponding recommended spinning. For example, combed preparations (such as top) contain only the longest hairs and have their individual fibers lined up. They are perfect for worsted spinning (such as the short forward draw) because they create a smooth, sturdy and lustrous yarn. Carded preparations (such as roving and batts), on the other hand, have short and long hairs mixed together and the fibers go in many different different directions. This is perfectly suited for woolen spinning which creates a lofty, squishy and matte yarn.

Kristine is quite serious about her instruction. Earlier that day, she consulted with Shari McKelvy, the owner of Morro Fleece Works to get terminology and processes down so that she could explain the most contemporary methods and machinery to us. it's so charming to see someone as passionate and as concerned about accuracy as the Verb crew. I feel quite honored to work and study here.

After the brief lecture, we dove into the spinning fun. In order to get a feel for each spinning technique AND how it translates to knitting/weaving/crocheting, we tried each one and created a mini-skein to work up later. Kristine demonstrated the "short forward draw" (aka Inch Worm method) which creates a worsted yarn (not to be confused with worsted weight... different beast altogether). We used a combed fiber, then a carded fiber to get a sense of how the spinning changes the nature of the preparation.

Next up, we reviewed the long draw which is the production speed technique but one I can't quite seem to master. I do love using it for my woolen spun yarns, but I haven't figured out how to create a consistent yarn (slubs and thin spots do not a fabulous fiber make!). I'm going to experiment more to see how different methods of handling and turning the fiber will improve my execution.

Finally, we did my favorite, from the fold. It's the technique that always get the "Oooooo" or the gasp, "It's magic!"

As always, class flew by far too quickly and that beautiful dusk blue sky turned dark as 9pm approached. I never really want to leave the Verb studio and I even stayed until midnight chatting with Kristine, Adrienne and Marlowe. There are never enough hours in the day to play with fiber or with your fiber friends...


Anonymous said...

That sounds so fun and interesting! I have not yet quite figured out all the differences in the spinning techniques, but it seems like my standard method is of the short draw "inch word" variety. Spinning! Good times.

WonderMike said...

Hey SpaceKitty, if you're inch-worming, you're most likely spinning worsted.