Tools of the Trade

I’ve been wicked busy lately :3 That tends to happen when I’m snowed in all the time; I get a little stir crazy and start pushing the boundaries of my crafts (or obsessively racking up in-game hours on one RPG or another… but that’s a totally different issue).  So right now I have a ton that I want to blog about– tons of breed studies + art yarn practice, for instance–

all together nowAnd even a bunch of dyework I did  that I want to finish processing so I can show it off better–

dye work— but all of these things are still in various states of ‘drying’, so they’ll have to wait a few days.

I keep getting questions– mainly from my relatives and friends, but still– about what actually goes into making handspun yarn and such. I thought I’d go through and explain some of my tools and how they’re used (or at least, how I use them– I ain’t a master wool worker yet; I still consider myself apprenticed to the internet). Anyway.

I know I’ve posted in the past about my wash process, but I don’t usually talk about what happens after that. After the (formerly) raw fleece is clean, there are still a lot of steps. If I decide to do some dye work… well, that’s pretty much the same process as for dyeing yarn. But at that point all I have is a colorful, disorganized fleece, and depending on what I want, there are a few different things I might do.

The first tool, of course, is the wool itself–

all you need is fiberMine is all organized and carefully stored to prevent moth infestation. Most of it still needs to be processed before spinning; I tend to leave it in (clean) fleece/lock form until I’m ready to use it.

hand cardsThese are called ‘hand cards’, ‘wool cards’, or ‘carders’– they are used like this. This set is brand-new, so I haven’t even tried them out yet. I have an older pair, too, that is smaller, but I really need to replace the carding cloth on them, so no picture of them today 😉 This is a very labor-intensive process, and takes a long time for me, so I usually only do this for small personal projects.

drum carder and accessoriesThen there’s always the drum carder. Mine is a bit dirty right now, but so be it, lol. You use it like this. Along with the drum carder, I use a metal dog comb (to open up the locks before carding), a plastic comb (to help me remove the batts from the drum), an awl/doffer pin (again, to help remove the batts), a nail brush (to clean the drum…a tedious and irritating process!), and I own a doffer brush, but I hate using it, so it mostly just sits there.

Sometimes, if the locks are really nice, I’ll spin straight from those, and just open up the tips a little with that dog comb.

The next tool would be my spindles, or course 🙂 I have all of those logged here. Some are heavier and best for plying, and Turkish style spin slower, so I usually use them to spin yarns I want to stay as singles (as my singles on top-whorl spindles always end up with too much twist and are best for plying).

Other than that, just some assorted things–

Other tools–A WPI tool and a Diz– the WPI is ‘wraps per inch’; it’s used to determine the weight of the finished yarn. The diz– well, you pull wool through it to make roving (in the case of carded wool), or sliver (in the case of combed wool– yes the different preps do make a difference. More on that later).

–A ball winder– for winding finished yarn. I also use it to wind singles in preparation for plying.

-My thread organizer 🙂 I do a lot of thread plying.

-Some small, simple looms. I experiment with my art yarns on these.

-I forgot to photograph it, but a niddy-noddy for measuring/skeining finished yarn.

I also have a pair of wool combs coming in the mail. Hand cards and drum carders make wool fluffy, but somewhat disorganized. Wool combs align every fiber parallel to one another. Depending on the yarn you want, one or the other is better. I hope to eventually also save up for a blending board; I LOVE spinning from the artsy, Puni-style rollags that come from that type of prep!

…The last and final tool is… the internets. Whether watching Netflix, listening to Pandora, researching how to make pom-poms, trying to decide how to price my work, reading craft blog posts, or just flat-out figuring out how to use my tools, the ‘net has thus far been invaluable 😉

So that’s the tools of the trade! Hopefully my yarn and wool will be dry soon so I can blog about that, ‘cus I’m rather bored at the moment, and while I know I should do something useful…I have the feeling I’m going to end up making sixty thousand pom-poms or something instead 😉

See y’all later!

PS– to my little sister– I took some fish photos for you. Enjoy.

For Emi

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4 Responses to Tools of the Trade

  1. That’s the shubunkin you liked, correct? And I still can’t get over how cool that eel is!

  2. arleneandbill says:

    You always have something to do.

  3. Pingback: A Bit More on Tools | Without Your Wings

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