Spinning: Finding Balance

As a new spinner in the early 90’s, I learned one trick to fix those over-spun newbie yarns, weigh it down after washing.

I would find a can of some vegetable or beans that the family would be overly joyed for me to use in something other than their dinner.  After soaking my finished yarn, I would hang it outside to dry, balancing the can in the bottom loop, precariously waiting for it to tip out.  It solved the problem of the out of control curly Q yarn. Temporarily.

As years went by, I graduated from can to the wet, heavy towel.  I rolled all the excess water from the yarn in the towel, then I would use it to weigh it down.  There was no walking away from this trick and having to hear the can fall and roll across the deck.  I just didn’t think twice about weighing down the yarn as it was just what I was supposed to do, so I thought.

Then some 20 years later, in a class with Judith MacKenize, the light bulb went on!  Why would I want to pull a defense play on my yarn by tricking it in to being something it’s not.

yarn balance 1

I started in with a new philosophy.  If my plan was to knit with it, I would give it a good soak, several whacks and a few snaps to then just hang it up to dry.  I stopped rolling the skein in a towel to get the excess moisture out and just give it a good squeeze.  For yarn I plan to weave with, I do not sett the twist.  I always label these type of yarns as it is better to be safe than sorry.

I don’t go into the mathematical parts of spinning very much, though I know fully well about the twists per inch and ratios.  I do accounting all day, so when I spin on my wheel or spindle, I don’t want to have to think about numbers.

I tend to go by feel.  I spin a bit, knowing what I want my single to be like and if I will be doing a 2 or 3 ply.  I maybe check it at the beginning of my spin by having the yarn twist back on itself.  If I like what I see, then I continue on.  If I need to tweak it a bit, I do.  I do like a little bit more twist in the ply as it will loose/distribute its energy in the finishing process.

We know there are no spinning police, yet some spinner out there may say we should always go by the spinning rules.  I agree that we should know the basic principles of spinning,  I just don’t think we have to follow them religiously.

The art of making thread and yarn dates back a pretty long time and I’m sure there were no hard and fast rules.  I would venture to say many of the folk spinning those fine threads for the king weren’t readers either.  My point to this post is that finding balance as a spinner is a lot like riding a bicycle.  Once you get the feel for it, you are able to know what you can and cannot do.

In life, like spinning, finding balance is a good thing.

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