June 29, 2012

learning curve

So far with my spinning, I've only worked with prepared roving, which isn't I think, the actual real name for it but it seems to be what people call it. Long ropes of fiber all combed into the same general direction. It makes it easy for a newb like me to make relativly smooth yarn from the get go.

But in my quest to learn to be a good spinner, hopefully one day a really good spinner, I've been experimenting with combing out fibers and spinning from little bundles called rolags. Which sounds like an odd name until you see them, and then you realize, yep, that's what they are. They couldn't really be called anything else.
I've been very lucky to receive some washed and dyed fiber from my dear friend Carol in New York and a huge kilogram bag of undyed wool that my parents brought back from a recent trip to Slovenia (sigh, I'm so jealous. Castles built into caves! Churches perched on little islands!) So I'm swimming in fiber that needs a little prep before spinning. Now I just need to get good at that prep. Because someday, someday I'm hoping that I'll be carding from my own little flock (but don't tell Will I said that, because I've only just convinced him that we need chickens AND bees and am almost there with the idea of meat birds in addition to the egg layers. Springing sheep or goats on him my push him overboard!)

Curiously, learning to prep has been harder for me than learning to spin, but I'm keeping at it. One little rolag at a time, one bunch of fiber. Because I'm just getting started and didn't want to invest big money in good hand carders, I'm using a pair of large dog brushes with a similar style of bristle. Really the only difference is the size it seems, which means that my rolags are wee little things where proper ones are much bigger. But it's working for now.

Carding wool is really very relaxing. Brush. Brush. Brush. Transfer. Brush. Brush. Brush. Transfer and roll. More than once I've found my self at the end of an evening with a small heap of little rolags scattered on the couch beside me (and no knitting or spinning done) But to be honest, I'm really not sure if I'm doing it right. So far I haven't found any other spinners around, at some point I'll take a trip down to Green Mountain Spinnery and pepper them with questions, but for now I'm plodding along on my own (although accompanied always by youtube and its endless tutorials.

Eventually, I'll get it. Like spinning, one day it will click and I'll know how to tell if the wool is combed enough, how to make it smooth and evenly rolled, how to move through larger amounts in a sitting. Because even an evening's worth of rolags doesn't go far once my wheel gets whirling.

It's a learning curve, and I have to say I'm enjoying the slowness of it. I'm happy to sit and comb and card and roll and eventually spin. Who needs meditation or yoga when you can relax to the spinning wheel going round and round?

Anyone out there with carding advice?