We had a very intense workshop this month – Spinning to the Crimp, with Alison Daykin. It wasn’t actually something that any of us had done before, and it was fascinating (and baffling, at least at first). There were plenty of wheels assembling,
and we were all discussing the fleece samples we’d been asked to bring and speculating about what the workshop would involve…
This became clear as Alison took us through assessing a fleece and measuring its crimp. We were making all sorts of systematic judgements which would be used to enable us to spin according to the crimp of the fleece, and which would guarantee a level of consistency.
One important snippet was to judge the crimp before washing the fleece.
The bottom one has been washed, as had most of our samples, and it’s easy to see how much easier it is to actually see the crimp on an unwashed fleece, let alone count how many crimps per inch it has.
Then we got on to the maths (eek), and began with talking about spinning wheel ratios. This was a bit embarrassing, as it revealed how few of us actually knew or remembered what the different ratios of our wheels were, but Alison was able to show us a very simple technique for working that out on the hoof, as it were:
You mark a spot on the wheel and turn it slowly, noting how many times the bobbin rotates (on this type of wheel) before the spot on the wheel comes past again.
And then we were off. It’s all in the rhythm of the treddling, really – getting the speed right to ensure that the yarn being spun was the most consistent possible, going by the fibre itself and allowing that to determine the yarn. Interesting, and completely the opposite to the instinctive way most of us spin, though we were assured that this technique very soon becomes equally instinctive, as it were. Fascinating and, as one person said, ‘insprational’. But there are other reasons to seriously consider spinning with the crimp. As another spinner said, ‘I can spin very fine yarn consistently already, but this will really help when I want to spin thicker yarn’.
Incidentally, several of us had brought samples of longwool fleeces – Wensleydale, Teeswater, Lincoln Longwool – which were wavy
rather than crimped, and which were definitely not the best fleeces for this technique. But – speaking personally – we still learned a lot about the best way to prep and use these fleeces.
A lovely day, and very many thanks to Alison for a great workshop.