If knitting in public isn’t weird enough for you, you should take up spinning.
What I learned from Spinzilla last week was that spinners are, on the whole, a very happy bunch of people. We like to get together and ogle each other’s fiber, wheels, spindles, kates, niddy noddies, and freshly made yarn. We encourage. We help. We teach. We skip tea in favor of wine.
In getting ready for Spinzilla, I couldn’t wrap my head around what I wanted to accomplish. Did I want to spin 4 oz per day? Did I want to make more fractal yarn? Did I want to try a combo spin?
A couple days before Spinzilla began, I assessed the fiber stash. I sorted it by prep this time and found that my roving bin wouldn’t close! That settled what to spin. As for how to spin it, I figured a spinning competition was as good a time as any to learn long draw, which is a production technique that produces a woolen yarn. I was almost swooning at the thought of spinning up woolen yarns in many colors to knit colorwork item. Peerie Flooers, here I come!
I opened up my Craftsy class “Drafting from Worsted to Woolen” with Jacey Boggs Faulkner and practiced long draw on a few different roving samples. After an hour of playing around, I emerged with a lumpy and deliciously lightweight mini skein of woolen 2-ply dark brown Cormo.
The night before Spinzilla started, pulled out some of my oldest stash: 7.5 oz of light grey roving with some pale purple and yellow carded into it. It was mystery wool that I bought on sale from a shop going out of business back when I was baby spinner. I prepped it by pulling off two yard lengths (measured fingertip to nose, nothing too fussy), splitting that lengthwise, then predrafting, or attenuating, each piece until it was about doubled in length. Then I gently rolled each piece into a ball so it wouldn’t tangle.
The prep helped immensely with speed of spinning and it turned out that this mystery wool was even easier to spin long draw than the Cormo.
My second major endeavor for Spinzilla was an 8 oz ball of mixed Icelandic and Border Leicester lambs wool from Kathy Westfall named “Two Black Lambs.” It was sooooo soft. The staple length of this fiber was longer, which made the long draw even easier than the mystery wool. It felt like it was spinning itself!
Here’s my Spinzilla 2015 pile:
As team captain for Happy Fuzzy Yarn, I pursued people to fill up my team of 25 spinners. I am really proud that we had at least 5 people on our team who were very new spinners. Even though this is a competition for most yardage, my focus was education and community. I wanted people to feel welcome, no matter their skill level or time commitment. I am so happy with what each and every one of us accomplished. I’m not burned out like sometimes happens with intense events like these, and I am already looking forward to next year.
This Spinzilla, I fell in love with the long draw. I am just getting started. I can’t wait to try more breeds and see what happens. And my happy spinner friends, makers extraordinaire, will be there with me.