Sunday, December 2, 2007

Adventures in Spinning, Part VIb: Worsted v. Woolen

Sunday. The last day of the workshop. Anne devoted this day to the differences between worsted and woolen spinning. I was particularly interested in this section of the workshop, because I have been confused by the difference - particularly since worsted spinning is not the same as what we in the U.S. call worsted yarn (here it has to do with the weight of the yarn).

I know for myself that, at this time, I prefer to spin worsted yarn. This is because yarn that pills and fuzzes irritates me no end. As the discussion continued, we learned about Worsted, Semi-Worsted, Semi-Woolen, and Woolen.

It's a little tough to see in the photo, but each of the four test skeins is a wee bit fatter and a wee bit longer than the next. They go in that order, from left to right.

So, what's the difference? It's mostly in the prep work. Really! Combed fiber - with all the short bits removed, and all the fibers going in the same direction, when spun "worsted," yields a more lustrous (usually), sturdy yarn that doesn't pill! It's not an exceptionally soft yarn, but it's particularly great for cable work (I do a lot of that). I love it!

At the opposite end of the spectrum, is woolen (it has the grey mixed in with it in the photo). Carded fiber (with everything carded, short bits and all), rolled into very loose (loose is KEY) rolags and spun "woolen," yields a light, lofty, (often not so lustrous) yarn . . . that pills and fuzzes like mad. I do not like it Sam I Am.

And in between, are the semi's: Semi-Worsted, where fiber is prepared worsted (combed) and spun woolen; and Semi-Woolen, where fibuer is prepared woolen (carded), and spun worsted. Important spinning note -> Here's what I think is the greatest reason to learn the long draw (what you use to spin "woolen"): When you make Semi-worsted yarn, you are spinning combed fiber woolen, and you get the best of both worlds: sturdy more lustrous yarn spun loftier (softer), but because the fiber was combed, all the short bits have been combed out - there are no short bits to pill and fuzz!! That totally rocks! You know I'm working on this technique ;-)

All too soon it was time to pack it up, but before we headed our separate ways, I gathered our gang together. I look rather short in this photo . . . that's because I was taking the photo and, thanks to the digital magic of photoshop, I've popped my head into an available space. I'm really a lot taller, but that was the best space for my head :-)

I am so lucky. I've said it before, but I really am the luckiest woman in the world. There is a saying that when the student is ready, the teacher will appear. This has happened for me so many times - and I'm talking opportunities to study with world-class teachers in a number of disciplines. I'm so grateful - and lucky - to add Anne Field to that list! (Horrid photo of me . . . great of Anne!)

And so, it was hard to say goodbye, but I headed back to the hotel to get packed and ready to head out on Monday early. I actually woke up at 3 a.m., and couldn't go back to sleep, so I got up and headed out - it seemed like a good idea at the time, but within an hour, I was wishing I had tried a little harder to sleep a little longer . . . it was a very long drive home.

I saw at least three huge deer that had been hit in the early morning hours. BIG deer. By the time the sun was up, I was doing better, but I spent the last hour or so of my drive singing real loud and smacking my right hand on my leg in time to the music to keep myself awake. Note to Self: In the future, do NOT try to drive 600 miles on 5 hours of sleep. ===:-O

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