I started this month with only two drop spindles: a Bosworth Midi 1.5 ounce spindle, and a super-lightweight, half-ounce Golding 2″ ring spindle. Both were left over from my last jaunt into handspinning, over a decade ago.
But then someone advised me that the Bosworth spindle was too heavy for what I was spinning. So I bought a one-ounce KCL (Ken Ledbetter) modular spindle. It’s a nifty idea: the top of the shaft and the bottom of the shaft screw into the whorl, allowing you to swap out shafts and also easily convert the spindle from a low-whorl into a top whorl and vice versa.
After a few days, though, I decided I didn’t like the KCL spindle; it’s not rim-weighted, so didn’t keep spinning as long as I wanted it to. So I started ordering spindles…and things got a bit out of control.
So now I have this lovely Golding ring spindle:
It turned out to be too light as well, so I ordered two more Golding spindles, 1.3 and 1.5 ounces. They should arrive next week.
And then I decided I needed a plying spindle. So I looked through the Golding website to see what they had in the way of larger spindles. And I found this amazing beauty:
Normally I’m not a fan of too-exquisite-to-use spindles (I call them “spindle jewelry”), but this one was calling my name, I swear! So I bought it; it should arrive around the end of next week.
I also ordered some Akerworks spindles – mostly because I love the idea of 3D-printed, interchangeable whorls mounted on a carbon fiber shaft. Modern technology meets ancient craft! They won’t arrive until late June, though.
Meanwhile, the fiber stash has expanded. I visited a friend who had recently started working with metal clay, and traded her my leftover silver clay for a pair of hand carders and some fiber from her stash. I was also completely unable to resist a variegated Lincoln fleece: all those lovely shades of silver! So I spent part of last week washing the fleece and then carefully sorting it into eight shades of gray:
I’m particularly amused by my woolly “value scale” – eight steps from white to black rather than the traditional ten, but as I don’t have a really pure white or a really pure black, perhaps that’s appropriate.
I’ve also spun up about half of the gradated fiber from last time:
That will go into a pair of socks. I am, however, not knitting the socks myself; instead, I’m trading with a fellow Caltech graduate, who loves knitting more than I do. I’m going to spin enough yarn for two pairs of socks – one for her and one for me – and she’ll do the knitting.
After that? I bought a pair of wool combs and am going to comb and spin the fleece. And then I’m going to weave a blanket. If it’s too warm for California, I’m sure I can find it another home with friends or relatives.
Of course, since I started with a six-pound fleece and my objective is to walk (and spin) about four hours a week, and I seem to be spinning at 0.3-0.5 ounces per hour, this is going to take awhile. If you assume four pounds of usable fiber, that’s 64 ounces or about 128 hours of spinning (being optimistic). At four hours a week, that will take 32 weeks – figure 40 weeks, including plying. So I probably won’t be ready to weave the blanket until next summer. But that’s okay; I’m in no hurry. The objective for this piece is not to create great art or even a practical item: it’s to motivate me to get some exercise. So if it takes forever, so much the better!
The one thing I haven’t figured out is how to manage my fiber supply. With the gradated top, I simply wind it around a wrist distaff (a rope/stick dangling from my wrist) and go. But the hand-combed top I’m making is so light and airy, and the sections so short, that it just falls off the wrist distaff. I’m thinking a very light basket carried on the arm. After that, all I’ll need is a little red riding hood and I’ll be ready to go wolf-hunting. 🙂
But that will all have to wait for me to finish spinning the sock yarn. Two pairs’ worth should take me through August, at the rate I’m spinning.
I guess I’ll just have to exercise more!
Fritz, being a supportive cat, has naturally been encouraging me to exercise. Mostly by making it impossible to get anything else done. Here he is, rolling around on my worktable and suggesting I go for a walk. After giving him a belly rub, of course.