Improve Your Spinning with Isobel McCallum Scott

Helenspinning reports0 Comments

The March workshop was full of students keen to improve their spinning. Isobel had given us the opportunity to state what areas we were most interested in working on prior to the workshop, so she came armed and ready to teach us to spin thicker or thinner, with more consistency and using many different techniques. She also brought along some very good display boards full of valuable information that there was not time to cover fully in class. I took notes on spinning and finishing a singles yarn, and a cable as I was interested to know how to produce both.spin13a

The class started with us trying to spin worsted from top, only to find that some of us were allowing a little twist into the undrafted fibre and so were not spinning true worsted. Five minutes into the morning and we had our first improvement. Once we were spinning worsted correctly, Isobel demonstrated how to control the thickness of the yarn by changing the tension of the wheel. This was a fascinating exercise to watch however I had my doubts that this would work for me. Needless to say it did and I was soon spinning a thicker single than I had ever managed. To judge by the exclamations from around the room I was not the only one surprised that it worked for all of us and not just for our expert tutor.

spin13dThen we moved onto longdraw, which necessitated the production of rolags. As a learner I took to spinning like a duck to water, but despite much patient explanation and demonstration from many spinners, coupled with avid book reading, I could not learn to card. This was very quickly apparent, so I received a one-to-one lesson and Isobel has the distinction of being the person who finally managed to teach me to card. Now whenever I sit down with my carders I he
ar Isobel’s voice reminding me that it is “hairy to handle” and I am pleased to report that my rolags now look and handle like rolags. After actually managing to produce a few rolags, the long-draw itself seemed pretty easy to me and I was happy enough with my sample.

Isobel had brought along a huge range of different wools, fibres and preparations for us to try. I particularly enjoyed trying out spinning a handful of noil. We also learned how to spin from the fold controlling the thickness of the yarn by the angle of the hand, and how to comb and spin from the lock.

As well spin13bas the practical, there was a lot of discussion on the technicalities of yarn design and the qualities different types of yarn will bring to the finished product. Fortunately we got a good handout on the main points covered in the workshop as it was far too much to take in and remember in one day. Because the day was so full, there was very little time to cover plying. Perhaps we could have a future workshop on “Improve your plying”?

In the couple of weeks after the workshop I made my first cable, and my first singles yarn which I finished by steaming. I will pass on a useful tip: don’t steam your yarn while it is still on your polished wood niddy-noddy unless you want to destroy the finish of your niddy-noddy. I was pleased with the yarn though!

Sue Varley

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