Sunday, April 5, 2009

New Plying Spindle... like a comfy leather couch

Ooooohhh, do I LOVE this spindle I got yesterday! Mffff glub, glub, glub, munchkee wumfkin. I just finished the last of the Verdant single, and this is a pretty thin spin. I wondered whether I should switch gears and ply this batch on anything other than the Kundert because, who knows, different spindle could produce a different ply or something. Plus that's a big spindle, I wasn't sure if it would break my singles.

Well, I said it seemed like it would drive like a 1950 Buick, and it does.
(More photos in the previous post, but here it is.)

I've only plied a bit so far, but I can already tell, I will have this little sweetheart forever. It just has the most steady, chug-along spin. Its fat little shaft is perfect for where I need to grab it for a counterclockwise spin. And though I've always thought a square spindle would be just weirdness, when it comes to a plying spindle (maybe others too for all I know), the square shape is perfect. Two ends of a thinly spun merino coming off the centerpull and outer pull of a cored ball... let's just say there's a lot of ways those can tangle. Well, I can set this little honey down on a side, set the ball across from it with tension on it, and it just waits to be picked up as is, no tangles.

As I kind of suspected might be the case, its steady speed is perfect BECAUSE it's not that fast. Lots of control potential built in here. And what I didn't expect? It doesn't reverse on you. I don't know why, I'm guessing because it's heavy enough so the twist in the yarn can't compete with its heft. But the square shape, there too, works to advantage because you have plenty of time to ease out your singles evenly, and this thing ain't goin' nowhere.

I'm such a glick, it's a totally weird experience for me to just see something and know I want it. I always need comparisons so I can fret over choices. This is the first plying spindle I've ever even seen, and the only one the vendor had. She didn't even have it on display, it was buried in her bag of stock somewhere. Yet the minute she dragged it out and laid it on the table, it just had my name all over it.

Really, really nice when some purchase of something you don't even have comparisons with turns out this great. I'm out of the market for plying spindles, because as far as I'm concerned, they won't get any better than this one.


Spinning Guild Gathering

Jenny and I drove to Connecticut yesterday because the Nutmeg Spinning Guild was having a speaker - Abby Franquemont who is the guru of all things fibery and spinnery, most particularly spindle-y. It was a 2-hour drive each way (less because I drive fast) so we had great visit time in travel, and enjoyed our time there.

The first thing that hit me was how diverse a culture can be when it has an interest in common.

There was a woman who reminded me of Annie Oakley, dressed in this amazing outfit that from the top down, was a well-worn suede prospector's hat, leather vest, blousson sleeves and braids. Another was in full burka (there were two men in the room, I think husbands, though one was working a spindle). Some of us look like yuppies, stressing the "young" part, and others of us are clearly grandma age. NOTHING separates women who have interests in common, particularly something like spinning.

I can't count the number of wheels people brought to take advantage of quiet listening time, or spindles. Lots of projects underway in that room, all the while listening to Abby chatting about the fiber-industry small village in Peru where she grew up as well as some fascinating history of the fiber arts, and even the somewhat sad note that fiber arts are disappearing.

Abby said one thing that really stuck in the minds of both Jenny and me. It applies to way more than spinning. It was along the lines, "Don't scoff at the proverbial hand knit dish cloth. Things like that can seem so unimportant and trite that no one records it. Some day there might be no one who can bring it forward because no one bothered to write it down."

One wheel was really worth photo time. I'm finding that I am a total tradition-bound wheel afficionada. I know there are others out there, but for me, Kromski, Kromski, Kromski! The turned legs, posts, the styling. And my favorite style overall (which I just got informed Kromski makes) is the Fairy Tale design. I just can't get behind anything made of plywood or plastic, no matter how efficiently it spins.

But there was one exception. A woman who was sitting right next to me had the most amazing wheel. I wish I could remember the name of the woman who made these... my neighbor said she's in her 70s, and has had health issues so apparently is not making wheels anymore, but she made them herself and then decorated them with pressed flowers.

Here is one of her wheels.

Here it is showing the pressed flowers, in close-up.

Okay, so when we walked through the door, I was still filling out my name tag when Jenny had already landed upon a vendor (Painted Sheep) who was set up just down the row. She had amaaazing roving for sale. Having sworn that I was done, done, done with fiber purchases for a while, I bought three tops. I mean, who could resist THESE!

Jenny had showed me the red/brown top and the more blueish of the two multi's that follow which she had already discovered and was buying, but seeing a slahering mom who's gravitated increasingly beyond 2-toned roving, she had no objection to my getting the same red and one of the multi's below. As for the red/brown, duplicates like that are just fine because we can both spin the same fiber and, as it goes, two spinners, two treatments... they won't look the same. As for the blueish toned top, while she will head in one direction with hers, I'm headed elsewhere. I saw a close neighbor colorway and my own interest was in combining them. If fibers are the same as two others I bought last week, I might combine the red/brown with those as well.

Two different colorways, but do these just belong together, or what!

There was one spindle vendor there who had an assortment of fascinating spindles, including some of Tabachek's Russians, complete with spinning bowls. I'm not good enough for those yet, but some day might branch off. Meanwhile, though I'm holding out for a Bosworth for a lighter weight spindle (to be hand choosen at the NH Fiber Festival in May), what I have been flirting with is the idea of getting a plying spindle. These are bigger and heavier, with a LONG shaft because plied yarns eat up shaft space fast. She didn't have any on display, and said any spindle "can" be used for plying (obviously)... but then she remembered, she actually did have one. In her bag. Not on display.

I'm fussy, I always want choices. But I really liked her plying spindle! It's huge. So it's slow. But it's beautiful, and not at all what I would normally be attracted to. I don't particularly like light woods, and I gravitate toward very traditional wood grain patterns. Nothing flashy. Well, this is flashy. It's Curled Maple, which I've never heard of.

But it speaks for itself.

The shaft is Curled Maple also.

It dwarfs my Kundert, and a Kundert is not a small spindle (2.5" whorl, 8+" shaft). This has a 3" whorl and a 9.5" shaft. It is not all turned together, shaft and whorl (my strong preference) but I just liked it.

After buying it, I spun a length of fiber they gave me, specifically to ply it then and there. Best I can describe, without knowing how other plying spindles act... it's slower. (Chug, chug, chug.) That may or may not be a good thing to the extent it is. I have a feeling it might be a VERY good thing from one standpoint. Its speed suggested that it might be an advantage for control. I tend to ply tightly. This might open up a whole new challenge for me -- more even plying, and slower gear to get it.

What actually came to my mind right off? I told Jenny that this is like driving a 1950 Chevy. Compared to a 2000's Honda. Again, for a plying spindle, particularly since I do tend to ply pretty tightly, that might be a good thing.

Okay, too many days like this I can't afford. $40 in fiber (THAT is a good deal), $42 for spindle (not sure about that if it's not one turned piece, but jury's out on how I interact with it), $20 attendance fee... plus a tank of gas. Yeah, too many of these days I can't afford. But all bets are off with the NH Sheep & Wool Festival coming up in May! On Mother's Day no less. I can't think of a better Mother's Day than going to a big fiber festival with my daughter. It just doesn't get better than that.