Sunday, February 17, 2008

Fear of Plying

Since my last post about my drop spindle collection, I've acquired few more, which I need to blog about at some point, just so I'll have some documentation for my own memory as to where I got them, and what they're made of, etc. It's truly become a serious collection, with no end it sight, so it seems. I daydream longingly about a couple of gorgeous one-of-a-kind vintage Goldings that go for as much as some wheels. Still haven't found the justification to get one of those, but I haven't forgotten about them, either!

One of my more recent acquisitions is this Jenkins Turkish made from Amboyna Burl:

pretty, no?
(and nope, I've not heard of that wood before, either)

After having relative success with my various top whorl spindles, this Turkish was a definite departure, and therefore had a bit of a learning curve, especially as I found very little decent information online about how to spin with one of these. I ended up ordering Wanda Jenkins' "Learn to Spin with a Turkish" book & DVD, and the book itself was good enough to where I was able to figure out what I needed to do. Never did have to watch the DVD....

The learning curve with the Turkish involves the fact that the "whorl" (really the two cross arms) is on the bottom, and there is no hook. Instead one must use a leader yarn and tie a half-hitch, and that took some practice to get the hang of doing smoothly. The nice thing about Jenkins' Turkish spindles is that they have a little nubbin at the top of the shaft so that the half-hitch doesn't slide off until you want it to. These spindles are not only beautiful, but also very well made, incredibly balanced, and spin for ages, so if you're in the market for a Turkish spindle, I'd highly recommend a Jenkins. Their customer service is superb, as well -- I dealt directly with Wanda Jenkins, and she was kind enough to email back and forth with me several times to answer a few of my questions. As seems to be the case for a lot of these mom & pop spindle-making operations, Wanda is the spinner & fiber artist, her husband Ed is the master woodworker. You can't help but have a quality product with that kind of partnership.

The cool thing about a Turkish spindle is that as you wind on your spun singles yarn around the cross arms , you create a center-pull ball that is ready to ply or knit with right then and there. This went a long way in helping me get over another learning curve, namely, plying.

When I was giving my friend Rita her drop spindle lesson a few weeks ago, she teased me that I kept buying spindles because I hadn't yet figured how to ply, and needed new spindles to spin up new yarn once the old ones got full. Well, she wasn't far off. I'd plied yarn on a spinning wheel, but never on a spindle, and for some reason, I had a mental block when it came to spindle plying. It wasn't that I didn't know how. I've been reading up on it and talking to everyone I could about the subject, and could speak intelligently about at least three different ways of plying spindle-spun yarn. I was just afraid to try it -- afraid I'd make a big tangled mess that would frustrate me so much that I'd be permanently turned off of my adored newfound hobby.

But, finally, once I mastered spinning singles on the Turkish spindle, I decided I wanted to use it for plying up two other spindles full of singles yarn -- it just seems so well suited for that.

Before I could ply up those other spindles of yarns, however, I needed to decide what to do with the tee-tiny little practice ball of singles already on the Turkish -- I hated to waste it. Since it was already a center-pull ball, why not ply that to itself? And that is what I did.

To ply my little center-pull ball, I decided to use my Louet top whorl student spindle instead, (top left in this photo), and I just made sure I had it spinning counter-clockwise (S-twist), since the singles were originally spun clockwise (Z-twist).

Here's the resulting tee-tiny hank of 2-ply yarn, all 8 yards of it:

what d'ya think -- fingering weight?

After I plied that tiny ball of yarn, I was just so proud of myself that I had to take pictures, including the obligatory dime-with-yarn photo. (I never knew how much of pain those damn dime photos are!) The fiber, by the way, is a little sample that came with the Turkish spindle, and according to the receipt, it's Crown Mountain Farms Corriedale pencil roving in their "Azure" colorway, (which doesn't appear to be currently available on their website). I'm a big fan of CMF's pencil roving, so was delighted to get another nice sample to play with.

I still haven't gotten around to actually plying up the other two spindles of singles, as was my original intention -- that will have to wait for another day.

And my days are about to become quite full, as tomorrow I start a brand-spanking new job, right here in River City. After 2½ years of self-employment and 8 years of working for people in cities other than my own, I've decided to take a job working for The Man -- the kind of job with a commute and benefits and orientation and evaluations and a dress code. I'm a little daunted by the thought of all that structure again -- I may find myself bristling against it. Here's hoping I don't freak out and run screaming from the building on my first day.

Speaking of a dress code -- how much of a nightmare is the phrase "business casual"? Enough to strike terror in the heart of this fashion-challenged gal. My entire wardrobe consists either of consultant clothes (way-too-formal suits and dresses), or homeless-wear (sweats & t-shirts). Not much in between. So I found myself having to hit a few department stores recently, to try and fill in some gaps. I met with decent success at Talbots and Dillards; Macys and Saks were a total bust. I may try Nordstroms if I can work my way over to Short Pump tomorrow after orientation. I need some decent shoes, too, and Saxon's purports to carry the odd sizes that'll fit my Fred Flintstone feet.

And speaking of orientation, I've got a boat-load of paperwork they want filled out before tomorrow's first day activities, so I guess I can't avoid it any longer -- better get to it.


(Doesn't seem fair that my first day is on a federal holiday. And so, the griping begins...).


Nikki said...

oh my, that spindle is gorgeous!!!!

good luck with your new job. and just remember working for The Man isn't all bad... just don't ask me how it's not all bad tomorrow (being Monday and all) :)

and yes, business casual is an awful awful phrase...

Bess said...

Ooooo congratulations on the plying - can't wait to see More Yarn!

Happy Monday - you'll do fine and learn all sorts of new things.


Krista said...

What a beautiful spindle! Good luck with the new job!

Krista said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
sheddy said...

Knock em dead tomorrow. I'm sure you'll make a great impression.Remember it's not what the package looks like, it's what's inside.

Suzanne said...

I've had great luck with Saxon--I have my feet of pain and they can always find me something not too ugly. The service is top notch too.

Good luck on the new job--you can do it!

Rita said...

I am so impressed with the plying! Go, girl!
Thinking about you today as you re-enter the 8-5 world. Just remember - this is another rung on that ladder to somewhere!!You will be great!

KSee said...

pretty spindle. Love reading about your spinning. Good luck at your new job. Sounds like mine. Black slacks and many tops work for business casual.

rho said...

Wanda and Ed are the BEST aren't they?

Good luck tomorrow - daunting but in a week you will wonder why you felt nervous at all :D

ctkgaking said...

The turkish spindle is beautiful, love the wood. I think your plyed yarn is beautiful. Gee, I'm still making either elastic or spider web!