Friday, January 5, 2018

Early January 2018

It's winter here. Of course. Lots of snow. Very cold for this region, and extremely cold over the past two weeks elsewhere in the country.

This is the time of year when I hunker down with the spinning wheel, find something to watch on Netflix, and shut the door on the world.

Well, there is also visiting, writing, curling and... drinking? Occasionally. But mostly spinning these past few weeks.

I love the juxtaposition of ancient craft and modern technology in this photo:

It seems to sum up a great deal of my life.

I'm spinning the second of two Bombyx silk dyed rovings I bought in Vancouver last fall.

It's hard to take photos that show the true colours in this fibre - I have an adequate but not professional camera, not-so-great lighting, and then there's the sheen of the silk that defies the entire photography process.

Natural light on the window sill seems to provide some accuracy in the colours.

When I spin rovings, I pull them apart into manageable lengths, and then further fan them out, so that the 'draw' onto the bobbin is as consistent as possible.

And when two bobbins have enough single ply of about equal amount, they are plied together to make a two-ply yarn.

The purpose of the wheel is to twist the fibre strands together, the singles in one direction and the plied yarns back against each other in the opposite direction. It's difficult (impossible, for me at least) to get the twist perfectly even. So when the plied yarns are finished and removed from the bobbin in a skein, it tends to twist upon itself.

No matter the fibre, I always take the next step, which is steaming the skein over a boiling kettle of water. It relaxes the overspun spots, 'sets' the twist and generally relaxes everything.

And this is what a calm, relaxed skein looks like. Never mind the colour - these were taken in the kitchen under bright lights.

My rough count is around 1400m of two-ply yarn (which is 2800m of spun singles) from 78g of fibre, so about 18m per gram. Not bad. My wedding ring puts the size into perspective.

Yes, there was also Christmas and New Year's recently past. Christmas was a somewhat boisterous affair at our house involving local family and friends, and included three youngsters under the age of 5, a couple of crokinole boards, food and beverages, liberally mixed with good humour.

It's never too early to learn to play crokinole!

Hoping you had a joyous holiday season, and that 2018 brings you health, happiness and love.

Currently reading "Solomon Gursky Was Here" by Mordecai Richler


  1. I have always wondered how a spinning wheel works; or even what it does! I'm not a snow fan, but I love your minimalist top photo.

  2. I have been spinning, too. Today is a grey dreary day so instead of weaving I'm plying the spools waiting for that step.

    1. What fibre are you spinning, Laura? I was tempted to dip into my stock of llama, but when I opened the first bag and saw that it was going to take a lot of work to clean it and pull out the guard hairs, I backed up and started crocheting a shawl from the first skein of silk!