In mid-September I posted about learning how to process hemp for fibre in a SCA TUA class. This is a similar process to processing flax for linen, and I found it very interesting! Once I had the fibre though, I really wanted to see about spinning it as well. I didn’t have very much fibre from the large bundle of hemp stalks so I didn’t anticipate the opportunity to MAKE anything with the hemp yarn, but I still wanted to give it a whirl (har har) since I had the material.
For one of my Kingdom Arts & Science entries, I wanted to do some Naalbinding… using hand-spun yarn. I only learned how to spin with a drop spindle (I haven’t yet learned how to use a spinning wheel, since I don’t have one, and a drop spindle is a lot more portable!) this past summer, but already really enjoy it – even though it takes AGES!
I decided that for the entry I wanted to spin my own yarn… and set myself a “stretch goal” of also carving my own drop spindle whorl from soapstone as well.
I’m thrilled… that I was able to do it!
When I was at June Coronation for the new ‘Kingdom of Avacal‘ (SCA) I attended a class on using a drop-spindle. For some reason, the thought of it just stuck with me, nagging me for quite some time, before I decided to just take the plunge and found a local supplier selling simple drop-spindles. I already had a bag of wool roving (which I purchased actually to make wool dreadfalls… I hope there’s going to be enough left for that too!)
I got my spindle from Stash Lounge in Inglewood. It’s called the Darn Good Yarn Drop Whorl Spindle, and was $16.00 plus tax.
I still need a lot of work on my consistency of width, and also seem to be prone to over-spinning, but I’m really enjoying the technique, and think I’ll do a bit of this… This white (undyed, unbleached, natural) wool is Natural White Fine Shetland Top and my plan is to use it for a Nålbinding project.
The package of wool was $14.51 (plus tax) for 227 grams or 1/2 a pound, from Shuttleworks.com just outside of Calgary/Okotoks.
Once my drop-spindle was quite full, I transferred the hand-spun yarn to a dowel of a similar diameter, just for storage while I spun some more wool. I wanted to create a bit at a time, to be able to hopefully do my project in one go.. rather than spinning, washing, Nålbinding, then going back and spinning, and washing some more. We’ll see how that works out – and if I made enough/too much! (Knowing how consuming Nålbinding is, I’m betting it will be more like too little than too much!)
I don’t have a warping board, so in order to prepare the wool for washing (and presumably to measure it.. though I forgot to do that…) I used my bookshelf, stuck some dowels between the books (and dvds) and wound the wool around the dowels the same way I use to with a warping board back in school when I took weaving. At least I THINK this is a similar way… it’s been a while and I didn’t bother to look it up.
I made three spindle-worth bundles, and only measured one of them, which was 15 lengths of 63 inches each, for a total of 945 inches, or 78.75 feet, or 24 meters. If all three bundles were the same length (they weren’t – the first one had fewer strands), it would be a total of 2835 inches or 236.25 feet, or 72 meters.
I tied the wool off at the crosses at top and bottom, as well as some figure 8s in the middle to avoid tangling, and make it easy to re-wind once it was washed.
I washed the wool in hot-to-the-touch water, with some soap, and agitated gently. I was hoping this would slightly full the wool, and ‘set’ the twist of the spinning. I did realize in this that I had over-spun some of my wool, as it was quite kinky in spots. On the first wash the water was a bit dirty, so I washed again, and then when the water was more clear, rinsed with cold water to remove any residual soap.
After washing I hung the yarn to dry, with some small weights to straighten it further if possible. Originally I used my apron-brooches as weights, but then traded them off for other weights, so I wouldn’t have to worry about tarnishing my brooches with the water/dampness of the wool.
The wool dried very quickly (overnight I think?) so I took it down, and gathered it up, ready to go back on my makeshift warping board to be re-wound on a dowel (as a bobbin) for Nålbinding with. If I had one of those nice ‘draw-from-the-core’ yarn winders, I’d probably use that instead, but I don’t.. and the dowel seems like a reasonable enough option.