Tuesday, January 5, 2016

'Carding Wool like a Ghost' YouTube video

I've wanted to share the type of long draw wool spinning I learned from famed spinster Edna Blackburn long ago (1970) in Ontario, Canada at her Albion Hills Farm School. More about her here.  Few now do the type of English long draw I learned there.  While I have taught this technique many times in person, I wanted to try sharing this over the internet without being able to touch your hands as you tried it out. It often utilizes shorter wools, rather than the longer wools suitable for wool combing.

You'll find my video on Youtube "Carding Wool like a Ghost" as a companion video to "Spin like a Ghost"

Long Draw technique is either exactly like or similar to 'Double Drafting' and my terminology 'Half Yarn' and involves stretching wool fibers that have some twist inserted, but not enough to make finished, unstretchy yarn.  At the 'half yarn' stage, the wool can be stretched farther to make the fiber thin out very quickly to the size desired.  As the fibers thin out, the yarn becomes weaker, since the twist required to make a strong yarn is being 'used up' as the yarn becomes thinner.  The major rule of more twist for thin yarn and less twist for thicker yarns is prime spinster science here.  It takes practice to gain a feel for timing of twist entering the wool keeping the 'drafting' zone alive and unfinished for quite a long length - it could be 2-3 feet before it has 'finishing' twist entered into the extenuated draft zone to make a strong final yarn.

This technique is frequently seen in hand spindle spinning and wheel spinning videos around the world. One that exhibits wool wheel (muckle) spinning can be seen here.  This is from Irish videographer David Shaw-smith and is part of a craft series of great importance to historical spinning. This particular segment shows an ancient technique on a primitive wool wheel with a wooden spindle in Ireland often called a muckle wheel.  It surely must be a rare survival of the walking wheel techniques of the Middle Ages, such as is seen the Luttrell Psalter and Decretals manuscript illustrations.

The long draw technique is not exclusive to carded rolls or rolags, but it is often used with them.  It is very helpful if these rolls are light and fluffy, hence the companion videos of carding wool and long draw spinning. It is also very helpful if the wool fibers are shorter - 3.5 inches or shorter.

When long draw spinning is done on a treadle wheel the main difference between walking/great wheel and treadle wheel is the pace of twist delivery.  On a treadle wheel, the twist delivery is fairly constant if the spinner continues to treadle.  This means that controlling 'half yarn' typically needs two hands - one at the bottom near the orifice to open and shut the pinch 'gate' so that half yarn can be drawn out.  When the lower hand pinch 'gate' is opened fully, the half yarn is finished and wound onto the bobbin.  This takes well prepped fibers and consistent rhythm in treadling and hand coordination.  Ruth Mcgregor is a genius at this HERE.

I hope these videos will help you to achieve a deeper understanding of long draw/half yarn done in the ancient style.  Sincerely, missingspindle / Lois Swales

PS: One advantage of being me is that I make ALL the MISTAKES.  I learn from them and try to share everything unpleasant that might happen to a spinner trying a new technique.  I may not be the best spinster in the world, but I am so very very knowledgable about spinning tragedies………...

'Spin like a Ghost' posted to YouTube

My YouTube video:
'Spin like a Ghost' is Here (https://youtu.be/oOEMx5nFV1M)

In which I use an 1808 CE Great (or Walking) Wheel to spin wool into woolen style yarn.

Ghostly Work in the Granger Pioneer House.  The Granger family settled in Wayne County in 1812. Mr. Granger's first wife died at a young age around 1825, leaving small children behind.  At that time, many pioneers were settling in areas half water/swamp and half drumlin hilly farm land. Mosquitos brought fevers, especially yellow fever to many. Mr. Granger remarried the next year and lived in this field stone house until he moved to Michigan in the 1840's. We purchased his house in the early 1980's.  I don't particularly believe in ghosts.  However, one night when I was sleeping in the old part of the house, near the oldest fireplace, I woke up screaming from a vivid dream.  There was a woman in the shadowy part of the room dressed in a brown dress with a rather high waist.  She was advancing towards me.  She didn't want me there, hence the (real time) screaming.  Once I was fully awake, I saw no more ghost.  I never slept in that room again, however.

A few years later, I encountered the 1808 wheel for sale in the same small town.  It came from the Granger sisters, who were descendants of the same large pioneer family and never threw anything out.  This 1808 wheel has characteristics of finely made wheels coming from Pennsylvania, especially the developed areas near Philadelphia, PA.  The Grangers migrated from New England thru Phelps NY.  But it is hard to say if other pioneers married into the family and the wheel came with them, or it was purchased from someone with PA connections in the area.

I love the fine quality of this wheel.  It is very stable with undamaged wheel bearings, handmade screw nut to hold the wheel in place and an interesting tensioning feature with a heart-shaped handmade screw at the bottom of the drive head post.  It was missing the drive head, which the Granger sisters could not find.  Not an uncommon problem.  There is no Maker's Mark on the wheel table, only No. 157, and the date 1808. (NOTE: the loom behind the wheel was part of the inheritance of a different pioneer family from Phelps NY.  It is a late 1700's/early 1800's linen weaver's loom. It still had the last warp on it when found (a rag rug) and string heddles.  It also came up from Pennsylvania to NYS.)