Kim's Blog

Question #1 – Why does my fleece still feel tacky after scouring?

Beautifully scoured Bluefaced Leicester Fleece.

One cause of tacky fleece can be poor scouring technique.

What to do if your fleece feels tacky and does not draft well after scouring:

Before a full on re-scouring of the whole fleece, see if it can be salvaged with a bit of oil. Rub a small amount of olive or 100% Neatsfoot oil on your hands and work it into about 10 grams of fleece. Give your hands a wash and then wrap the fibre in a tea towel and allow it to rest for 30 minutes before spinning. If drafting has improved, great! Treat enough fibre for one spinning session with the oil until you have all your fleece spun. Be sure you to wash the oiled handspun in a timely manner (one to two months after spinning.).

If drafting has not improved, then I am afraid a second scouring is required.

 

AVOIDING TACKY FLEECE

Water Temperature: If dealing with a fleece you have not worked with before, conduct a few 10 gram sample scourings. Try 120°F, 140°F, 160°F and 180°F. Choose the water temperature that results in the nicest hand without feeling tacky.

Neutral pH Soap: The soaps I have had the best success with are Blue Dawn Liquid Soap, Castille Soap and Orvus Paste. A fleece that has next to no grease at all gets a Castille Soap scour, fleece with more grease gets Blue Dawn and I use Orvus for very greasy fleeces. Avoid suds by filling your scouring container with water, adding the soap and giving it a gentle stir. Other cleaning agents I have used with good success include Eucolan and Unicorn Power Scour.

How much Soap: I go by feel I am afraid. When the water feels slick when rubbed between my fingers, I know I have added enough soap.

Fleece Transfer: Grease is attracted back to the fibre as the water cools. Once the scouring soap bath reaches 120°F, I transfer the fibre to a 120°F clear rinse. To transfer the fibre I gently squeeze the fleece while it is still under water. Lift it from the bath, while continuing to keep the fibre under light pressure, and place it into the clear rinse bath. If there are still suds in the water, one or two more clear rinses may be required. I leave the fibre in the last bath until the water is completely cool. Once the clear rinse bath has cooled, I gently squeeze the fleece (while it is still under water), remove it from the rinse water and place it upon a few layers of nice, thick cotton towels. I cover the fleece with tea towels and leave it be for 3 hours. After the time is up the cotton towels will have wicked up the excess moisture from the fleece which can then be transferred to a sweater rack to finish drying.

Hope this proves helpful. Cheers, Kim

Question #1

Why does my freshly washed fleece still feel tacky?

More often than not a freshly scoured fleece that feels tacky is the result of:

Polworth Fleece. Scoured and ready to comb.

  • Water being too cool to remove all the grease.
  • Not using enough of a neutral pH soap.
  • The soap you are using is not very effective on grease removal.
  • The fleece has been allowed to cool down in water that still contains some grease.

When scouring remember different fleeces contain different amounts of “grease” and they cannot all be scoured the same way. What works with one breed may not work with another. It is best to sample before embarking on scouring a whole fleece.

I will post some thoughts/answers to the above bulleted points in my next post.

Until then, take good care and happy spinning.

Cheers, Kim

Questions I am Often Asked

As I prepare for workshops over the coming year, I have been thinking about those questions most often asked by students. Hopefully some of their questions and my thoughts/answers will be of interest to you too over the next few posts.

Cheers, Kim

3 Spots Left – Sanjo Silk Spinning Workshop

On my wheel this evening. Mulberry Silk / Bombyx 50/50 Blend


I am teaching a Mulberry silk spinning workshop, April 28, 2019 at Sanjo Silk on Granville Island. If you have been tempted at all, there are three spots left. Details and a link to Eventbrite can be found under the Upcoming Workshops Tab. Look forward to seeing you there!

Cheers, Kim

 

ANWG 2019, Prince George

Confluences Conference : June 11-16, 2019

On-line Registration begins on January 27, 2019 at 9 am PST

The Prince George Fibre Arts Guild is hosting the 2019 ANWG Conference. I have posted the list of the seminars as well as a description of the Distaff workshop I will be leading under my “Upcoming Workshops” tab.

Further information regarding: the Conference Theme, the Event Schedule, Design Challenges, Conference Colours, Instructors’ Bios and last but not least and a full list of the workshops and seminars being offered can be found here.

The Conference is being held in Prince George’s downtown core. So as well as conference activities, shopping, the museum and some great dining can be found close by.

Look forward to seeing you there! Cheers, Kim

Spinning Record Cards

My system for record keeping has morphed over the years to the system described in my September 2 and December 1 posts. Having the luxury of time over the next while, I decided to replace the older Spinning Record Sheet under the Downloads tab with the Spinning Record Card (SRC) I currently use for my own FO’s.

I keep my records in a binder, but the sheet, which displays 2 records per page, could also be cut in half and filed in a box.

I like information that can be picked out at a glance. Here are a few notes to explain how I use these cards.

  • Ratio ____ LMS. My Majacraft wheel has three whorls. Instead of recording the ratio, I highlight which whorl is presently on the wheel. One of my last spins was Gotland for a shawl that will soon be on my needles. I highlighted M and on the adjacent line wrote 4/4. “M” indicates my medium-sized whorl and 4/4 tells me that my drive band was sitting on the fourth groves; both on the medium whorl above and on the drive wheel below.
  • Fibre Prep, Draft Twist, S/Z: A simple stroke of a a highlighter records my information.
  • Folded TPI and WPI: This is where I record the tpi and wpi of the folded sample taken from the bobbin side of the orifice (see December 1st post).
  • Finished TPI and WPI: This is where I record the tpi and wpi of my handspun after it has been finished.
  • Dashed Cyan Circle: Records my spinning project number. My last handspun FO for example is #18-3.
  • I attach plying and finished yarn samples to my SRC (see December 1st post)
  • and last, but not least, I staple my Sample Card (see September 2nd post) to the back of my SRC.

I hope these cards prove as useful to you as they are for me.

Cheers, Kim

 

SANJO SILK WORKSHOP

This year I will be leading two workshops at SANJO SILK Ltd., 1531 Johnston Street, Granville Island, Vancouver, B.C.
Each one-day workshop is limited to 6 students.
The registration fees are: $120 for one workshop or $215 for both workshops. The registration fee for each workshop includes 150 grams of fibre, a full set of comprehensive notes as well as a binder for notes and samples.
Expanded workshop descriptions may be found under Claddagh Fibre Arts “Upcoming Workshops” tab.  

You can register through Eventbrite. Links can be found under “Upcoming Workshops”. 


April 28th : Mulberry Silk

This workshop  explores mulberry silk and the host of spinning preparations available to hand spinners. Over the course of the day you will have the pleasure of working with Mawata silk, spun silk, silk sliver, silk oil and a few of my favourite mulberry silk blends available from SANJO SILK’ s Studio.


September 8 : Non-mulberry Silk

I will introduce you to the world of non-mulberry silks. In this workshop you will spin exotic silk fibres such as Chinese tussah, Indian Tasar, Eri, Muga, Indian peduncle silk and some of their blends.


 

Delving further into Record Keeping

The singles yarn sample and the folded sample mentioned a few posts back should be taken from the spinners’ side of the orifice. These samples serve as a quick reference which helps with consistency. Periodically throughout a spin I stop to take a quick look at my singles grist and tpi. If all is well, I continue. If, on the other hand, the thickness of my yarn or my tpi is slightly off, I make the adjustments needed and then carry on spinning my singles. Some spinners also check their angle of twist on their folded sample as a reference throughout their spin. This is not something I have added to my process….yet. I believe it is a valuable addition to the process….I am just not there yet.

Continuing on from the last post…..The second index card I prepare contains a plying sample and a finished sample.

  • The plying sample is a folded sample taken from the bobbin side of the orifice. For this sample I fold the singles to the number of plies I plan to spin…ie 2, 3, 4 or 5 ply…and then give it a quick roll on my thigh. If it is a z-plied yarn it is given a roll up my thigh and if it is an s-plied yarn I give it a quick roll down my thigh. This sample gives me a rough idea of what the plied yarn will look like and can be used to refer to when I start plying.
  • A finished sample is just that. A sample of the yarn that has been subjected to the finishing method I plan to use.
Important things to keep in mind:
  • Samples should be made from freshly spun yarn. But what if you have not kept records or samples to this point and you have a bobbin full of singles? Your folded sample from this bobbin barely twists back on itself. Here’s what you can do…remove the first yard of yarn from the bobbin and toss that away. Take the next yard, fold it back on itself and cut it from the bobbin. Place this folded sample in a cup of warm water. Leave it in the warm water for minute or two and watch closely as you take hold of one end of the yarn and lift the strand from the water. The strand will begin to spin. Once it has found its balance point and stops spinning, remove the excess water and use this sample to ply to.
  • A finished sample may seem like extra work. I think this photo is all that is needed to convince you it is worth the extra time. Both these yarns were spun from commercial sliver using a forward worsted draft twist. They were spun to a very similar tpi and both skeins were wound using the same niddy noddy. After finishing and drying however……see photo below. Breed alone gave very different results to the finished yarn.
  • I make the finished sample from a 10 inch strand of wool. I cut two 10 inch strands from the plied yarn. I keep one as is, and finish the other. Once the finished strand is dry, I measure it. If it is now 9 inches long….I know I have 10% less yardage after finishing.

I hope you find this helpful. Cheers!

South American on the left. Gotland on the right.

 

Taking a Closer Look, Worsted Fibre Prep

Dissecting the sliver (pronounced sly-ver) used for your current spin serves two purposes:

1) A look at the various fibre lengths within the sliver helps you to determine your draft length, the distance that should be maintained between your two hands while spinning.

 

2) It emphasizes the fact that a light grip on the fibre source is a must. If the fibre is held too firmly, the fibre hand acts like the woolcomb in these photos. A firm grip causes the fibres to be released from the longest first to shortest last. A light grip, on the other hand, allows the long, medium and shorter fibres to be released at the same time.

 

Note: In the first sentence I said for your “current” spin. Each time you spin from a different fibre source you should dissect your sliver. Just because you may be working with the same breed does not guarantee the fibre lengths contained in the sliver will be the same as those in your last supply.

 

 

 

 

Top left: BFL Bluefaced Leicester

Bottom Left: Polworth

Bottom Right: Falkland

 

Upcoming Workshops 2019

Spinning and Dyeing workshops I am teaching in 2019 are now posted on my “Upcoming Workshops” page. Looking forward to another great year!