This was taken at Traditions in the Making, a Heritage Craft event at Stanmer Park, Brighton. With lots of volunteers from local community textile group Woolly Umbrella, alongside the CSM there were demonstrations of flax processing, lace making, weaving, inkle looms, wool fibre preparation (hand and drum carding), embroidery and wool and flax spinning.
The CSM is an Imperia with an 84 slot cylinder and gm here I am knitting a sock in traditional 3ply sock wool; no nylon. This was the nearest we could get that was most like the wool probably used originally on the machine. Although I have knitted on it with hand spun I felt that demonstrating required enough concentration without the worry of irregular yarn!
In a brave, but foolish, moment I decided to try a toe-up sock at one point. It wasn’t too bad at all, and I am quite pleased with the result.
I’ve just spent about an hour fiddling with the battery pack that came with my E-Spinner. The E-spinner was secondhand and was still unassembled and the battery never been used – the battery pack is not an Ashford one. I thought the details of the battery pack might be useful for anyone looking to buy one of these for their E-Spinner 3.
Super Rechargeable Li-ion Battery, YSN-N12V
Output: 12VDC 3800mAh, (this is the DCin/out outlet, a round plug that leads to the E SPinner power plug when being run on battery).
Other output is: 5VDC 6800mAh – (the usb outlet).
In my excitement I charged it rather haphazardly, but it has been working fine with the spinner. When I came to recharge it I found that it was not indicating charging as explained in the manual. However, a useful review on YouTube enabled me to understand what was going on. There is another lead with the battery, a round pin on one end (that is the same size as the outlet, and a much thinner pin on the other end – no idea what that is for). The lead from the battery to the E-spinner has the same sized pin on each end. It may have been purchased separately from the battery pack?
Basically the instructions were confusing about the charging process. The led on the plug the goes into the wall outlet is supposed to be red when the unit is plugged in to charge, and turn green when it is charged. The unit also must be switched on at its own on/off switch whilst charging, (if you leave it switched on when not in use it will discharge). The battery pack has five green lights on the top, one to show the pack is charged and four others labelled 100%, 75%, 50% and 25%. Nothing is said in the instructions about these, but trial and error showed that pressing the unlabelled button on the left side of the unit indicates the amount of power remaining in the unit using these lights.
I couldn’t find the battery pack on eBay or Amazon but did find it on AliExpress.
I have used the battery for about 4-5 hours spinning before it needs recharging, so am really pleased with the unit. I have also bought the cigarette lighter plug connection so that I can use it on the 12v in our caravan. May be overkill as the battery is working well so far. The battery takes about 8 hours to charge.
Having acquired a Devon/Cornwall fleece that is quite similar to a Romney in feel and quality, I thought I’d dye some for blending. This fine will be great to comb for a semi-worsted spun yarn.
One of my favourite methods for safely dyeing fleece without matting the fibres is to use a slow cooker. I have a large family sized one that will dye 100g comfortably and 150g at a pinch, and a single-person one that does 20g for samples etc.
Using a pre-mixed colour I’ve used before I did a blue first. However, on this fleece it came out darker than I anticipated, but will probably lighten up once combed or carded and spun.
From the remains of the dyebath I got a pretty light turquoise.
I have combed these colours as shown in this video.
I also wanted an olive green, and have a recipe that worked perfectly on a Dorset fleece last year. I must have made a mistake somewhere, because I got a dark green instead. Maybe it is the different fleece, but I think I got my proportions wrong!
Once again they was some colour left in the bath, so in went 100g of Dorset fleece. OMG, the colour was bright! No idea what I did wrong, but it makes me blink.
That bright green total exhausted the dye – no surprise really! I will probably card this as the staples of the Dorset fleece are short and it is a soft fibre. Great for soft woollen spun yarn.
If you are interested in discovering the difference between different terms such as roving, tops etc, click here to read Abby Franquemont on Spin Off.
I’ve been running a suint bath for washing fleeces this summer. Whilst the temperatures are reasonably good the suint has worked well. I’ve actually finished washing all the fleeces now so we’ll probably use the diluted suint bath as fertilizer.
Suint is explained it chemical terms by other people far better than me, but basically it means that the fleece soaks in a liquor composed of the sweat and dirt and developing microbes. The bath is built up from other fleeces. I use the dirtiest fleece first as that made the best base for the suint and have worked through 5 fleeces weighing about 1-2 kg each before going into the bath. I skirt and sort the fleece first because I don’t see the point in washing really dirty stuff that’s never going to come clean, but I equally try to preserve as much of the fleece as possible. I’ve got a bucket of the really unsalvageable stuff soaking so that I can use that liquid as a fertiliser as well.
I didn’t take a photograph of the locks of this Scoth Mule fleece before the suint bath so can’t make a comparison but it has come up beautifully clean.
My process was as follows. I laid The fleece out on a mesh grid cleaned as much of the dirt out as I could by shaking it and then skirted it. Next I sorted it into qualities, picked out as much vegetable matter as I could. Each quality was put into several smallish mesh laundry bags and then into the suint in manageable quantities. The suint bath really stinks, which I think must be caused by ammonia, as it makes my eyes water!
I left the fleece in the suint for 5 to 7-days then using rubber gloves and, with a peg on my nose, I removed it and left it to drain. Once it was drained, I rinsed it in a couple of changes of clean, cold water. Because I didn’t want to put the stinky mess in spin dryer I swung and it around to remove excess water.
Next I washed the fleece in batches in hot water with Eurolana wool wash. This is good as it cleans well without loads of suds so rinses out easily. The smell was slowly fading, but even after two rinses it lingered.
A final spin and then the fleece was emptied out of the mesh bags into a two-tiered flat mesh dryer. This goes outside and by the time the fleeces are dry the smell has gone. Phew.
I purchased these two fleece in July and due to family and work things didn’t get around to washing them until August. They are what I believe is called Scotch Mule, a cross between Blue Faced Leicester and Scottish Blackface. These two were classed as ‘more BFL than Blackface’ which is what attracted me.
I set up a suint bath for them which is still going strong, (and I mean STRONG in an olifactory way when it is disturbed. The suint does clean well, but my family are threatening to leave home if I continue for much longer. Only four more bags need to be washed, and are soaking in the ghastly liquid right now.
They have come up nice and white with delightfully soft locks. There is stil some VM to be picked out during combing, but it wasn’t too bad overall. Some dirty tips have had to be removed.
I am very excited about starting to process the fleece using a set of Viking wool combs. I used these for a Lleyn fleece last year and was pleased at how fast I got at the combing (though sadly not as fast as carding).
Should I dye the locks before hand or after spinning? To be honest there is so much I could do some and some. The average staple in one fleece is 7″ and the other is 9-10″, which is going to lovely for worsted spinning.
I recently read an article in SpinOff about distaffs and decided to try using one when spinning in a wheel, not just on a drop spindle. Luckily I had a handy drumstick lying around that I use to roll rolags off the blending board and it is just about the right length and weight. Its varnished surface also helps the wool slide off easily as I take it from the distaff.
At the moment I am spinning Ryeland fleece and have been preparing batts on the drum carder. I used to be able to take a roving off but since the carder was motorised its not so easy as it won’t rotate freely. So now I split the batts into narrower lengths to wind around the distaff. This seems to work OK and after a spray with spinning oil I find the fibre supply much easier to handle in this manner. Using my (new) large double drive wheel I get a good speed up and even doing short draft can spin a surprising amount, (for me anyway) at a sitting.
I will carry on with this and see how it works out. I may even get to attach the distaff to one of the wheel uprights which might be even more efficient.
Distaff held in my waistband, but sometimes under my arm or in my outside fingers.
Rather like buses, spinning wheels come along when you are not looking in the right direction. I didn’t intend to gather another into my collection, but could not resist this one.
This one is a Frank Herring imported Norwegian wheel from the 1970s (I think). It’s had a lot of use and a bit of abuse, but works fine. They are after all meant to be used!
I really wanted a double drive wheel with a large wheel that has a good solid tensioning system. My converted d drive is OK, but it’s really hard to get the take up going without cranking the mother of all up at quite an angle.
Part of my rationale for the wheel is that I grew up near to Dorchester, where Herrings are based. I used to see this very (maybe?) wheel in their window in the High St as we went past on the bus when visiting my grandparents in South St, and found it a magical thing, even as a child. So it’s a short of revisiting childhood, reclaiming the magic, back to my roots thing!
I never could have imagined the path my life would take as I gazed at that wheel, and now I own one. Definitely a personal journey. I don’t care if it creaks!
Actually it spins beautifully, plenty of take up and very easy to adjust. I probably need to use a slightly better drive band than kitchen string…
I just need a few more bobbins as it only came with one.