Saturday, December 03, 2011

Road Trip

This past Saturday a local spinning pal and I went on a road trip to Mount Albert to take the intermediate spinning class at Gemini Fibers with Wendy Walen . If you are ever up that way and get a chance to stop in to the store, it's well worth it. The place is jammed to the rafters and I've never seen so many knitting books in one place. 

It was a three-hour trip, both ways, and so I just didn't have the time for the blog. You understand. However, here are my notes for your edification and enjoyment.
  • Slow down. Your singles will be more even. Take time to enjoy the process.
  • For a ply-back test, let the single wind all the way onto the bobbin (move your hand pinching the single up to the orifice), then pull out the single and do the ply back. This is because you want even twist in the whole single and twist is still being added to the yarn as it winds on to the bobbin.
  • Make a sample bracelet. Using freshly spun singles that are of the type of yarn you want to make, do a ply back and tie the resulting yarn around your wrist. When you do a ply-back for sampling, you can compare your bracelet to the sample, by touch as well as sight.
  • Commercial rovings are compacted by shipping, and storage, so it's worth while to do some pre-drafting to get air back into the fibers.
  • Always test your staple length before you start. It will tell you how far apart to hold your hands, and a lot about the qualities of the fiber (crimp, fiber directions, how "grabby" is it?)
  • Crimpy wool needs more twist. This I didn't see demonstrated, so I'll have to do a bit of a test for myself with some sampling.
  • To join smoothly, consider the length of the fiber and the type of spinning you are doing. For the Blue Faced Leicester that we were spinning, Wendy recommended you feather out both ends finely, overlap them and then begin to spin. The join happens as the twist enters the fiber.
  • Sample lots, sample often. Sampling is not waste. Sample different grist, sample different ratios, sample in the skein and knitted up. While you are learning, buy extra fiber for each project so you can work up many samples to see what works best for the fiber you have.
  • You can always go back to the single or the plied-yarn and add or remove twist. (Can't believe I forgot this one.)
  • Worsted yarns need lest ply twist, more single twist. Woolen yarns have more ply twist to compensate for their low single twist.
  • To fine tune my chain ply:
    • I need to make smaller loops. I didn't have control over the very large loops I was making.
    • No tension necessary on the lazy kate. Keep tension in the singles between my two hands.
    • Must have good integrity in the singles for a successful chain ply.


  1. My friend Nicki took spinning classes last year at Gemini. She speaks very highly of both Wendy and gemini.

  2. All I can say is I am ever so impressed you are already able to handle an intermediate spinner's class! I am such a pathetic spinner (still at the beginner level after several years!).

  3. Hi Laurie,
    I bought my first Spindle from Gemini Fibres at the Knitter's Frolic back in 2006.
    I'm glad you learned so much at your class. I love spinning!!!

  4. That's a great tips about the ply-back. It actually makes a lot of sense when you stop and think about it.