Whahoo!! I just HAVE to chronicle this, and I do have some questions, they will be at the bottom in nice neat easy to find rows if you don't want to read my entire *squee* fest.
So recently I started a new job at a massage therapy clinic (nothing creepy) as a front desk associate. When I found out one of the therapists had a pair of llamas living on her little farm, I was intrigued. After talking to her a little, I convinced her to give me a little bit of their wool to play with, hoping to learn to spin.
I made a drop spindel (from a dowel, two little wooden disks glued together, and a cup hook), read and watched everything on spinning I could find, bought two dog slicker brushes and a cat comb, and set about spinning my new wool. Trial and error and two nights up until 4, and I had a cute little skein of pure llama wool. I pulled off two small bits and dyed them with food coloring just for laughs, and they took the dye better than anything else I have dyed (I have dyed white Lion Brand Fisherman's Wool before, along with a few other things, using egg dyes, Wilton Icing dye, and various other food dyes, with the help of my friends Leslie and Ben and their little tie-dye business). Thrilled, I started talking about it on Facebook.
My dear friend Patrick appears out of the blue with the information that he owns an Ashford Kiwi wheel, oodles of roving, and some hand cards, and he would be willing to bring them over to my place and teach me to spin. THRILLED!! We did that, and I popped my very first wheel spun yarn (it is a beautiful cotton candy pink Corriedale) onto a niddy noddy to set the spin. An experiment in Navajo plying, and a turn on my nostepinne, and I have my very first ball of handspun yarn--YAY!!
The next night, Karen invited me and James out to her farm to meet her llamas. We sheared and combed the llamas, Roman and Gandalf, fed the horses, chased the goats, picked eggs, drank a few beers, and had a grand ol' time. When I got home that night, I immediately set to cleaning the llama wool. It is beautiful, off white, surprisingly clean (very little VM), with a decent staple. Smells like a farm animal, but who cares? It is beautiful.
I spun some more on my drop spindel, this time a wonderful earth-tone (brown, green, orange, hints of yellow) blend of several types of wool. I spun it worsted, and when plied I think it came out to about the width of a commercial "worsted weight" yarn. I read some more of this forum, learned about carding colors together, and went about pirating commercially spun wool for it's neon pink color, carded it together with some of the cotton candy and the earth tone, and spun that up.
During this time, my boyfriend was online, looking at various spinning wheels. After several hours of this, he looked at me, and said "We should go to Home Depot tomorrow. I think I can make one of these things." So we did. And he is. Right now, he is in the middle of the floor in our tiny living room, surrounded by parts and chunks of wood, putting it together and making me a spinning wheel.
I LOVE THIS MAN.
So a few questions.
1) My drop spindel never spins more than a few seconds, just about the time I get the hang of it and feel comfortable drafting, it is backspinning. Is that caused by weight distribution? I've read that a edge-heavy whorl spins longer...is that my problem? My whorl is almost weightless, really, compared to the dowel itself.
2) How to I salvage the little bits and pieces of partially-spun-then-fell-off wool? Can I just card it back out? Will that damage it?
3) We bought a length of nylon tubing for making the little flexy piece that attaches the treadle to the footman, and it occured to me that it might make a good drive band. Anyone know any reason why it might not work?
4) Is a Navajo ply yarn always so...bumpy? For lack of a better word...I read that it is sort of like a big, loose crochet chain, so that is what I made. However, the places where the loops interlock make little bumps in the yarn. Being an avid crocheter, I feel that that would annoy me, but I have not yet crocheted my Navajo plied yarn, so I have no idea. I guess it looks kinda cool, just not what I envisioned.
5) What the heck is a Scotch Tension? I see it mentioned all over the place and I can't find a definition or description that doesn't make me more confused.
I'm past the park and draft method, it is only serving to annoy me now, but with the lack of continuous spin, I'm getting frustrated with dropping it, too. I am sure that the experienced spinners out here can help me. I'm learning extremely fast...I started this less than a week ago and I'm already past the little help the books I have offer. Save me, Spinning Super Heroines!