August 16, 2010 by Spinningmad Dee (Dionne) Westwood
Designing Sock Yarn – Part THREE – Set Up of Your Wheel & Pre-drafting.
Hi again, welcome to our third in the series taking you through every step of designing, spinning, plying, dyeing & knitting with your own hand-spun sock yarn. We hope that you’re enjoying this journey and have found the tutorial parts so far, easy to use and informative. Do let us know if you encounter any difficulties (or have any comments, good or bad) we will do our best to resolve any issues swiftly.
We will soon begin the process of spinning, but before we sit down at our wheels to enjoy that part of the process we first need to PRE-DRAFT our fibre ready to spin….This tutorial will feature a short video of me pre-drafting so that you can see the process in action.
I’ve only got 1 wheel (←this is mine!). In fact I feel quite deprived by this, as almost everyone I know who spins, has a minimum of 2, and often 3 or 4 different wheels. Lucky them! …..Anyway, mine is a single drive Ashford Traveller …(by the way, Sara is an Ashford agent and can supply any of their wheels and accessories at competitive prices!).
I bought it second-hand as a single treadle, then altered it using an Ashford kit, into to a double treadle. I did this because having read many reviews and books I discovered it would be less wearing for my injured back to use both feet evenly rather than to use one foot and strain my already painful spine (there is a separate section on site about the differences in single and double treadle wheels)
I try to keep my wheel oiled well, thought it does get rather dusty as it is also a part of the furniture… my home is small and I don’t have the good fortune to have a room to call my “studio” (yet!!!)…so if your wheel hasn’t been used for a while now is a good time to give it some TLC.
(see wheel maintenance in another tutorial).
Before I begin I let all tensioning off both the drive band and of the scotch tension (which controls the draw in on the bobbin) ensuring everything is as slack as possble; then I can do any adjusting as necessary using my leader thread to ensure it is set up to spin in the way I want it to each time.
I don’t want to be fighting against my flyer as I spin and have it tugging the yarn away from me, causing it to break….. “When I’m spinning my scotch tension is so loose the nylon “wire/cable” is just sitting on-top of the groove in the bobbin”….. Adjust the scotch tension only as and when you need, using tiny, partial turns. This is all it needs as the bobbin gets heavier/fuller.
I use the smaller whorl for my drive band (shown) as I want a lot of twist in this yarn.
The smaller the whorl, the faster the spin and the more twist per treadle.
If you are a tad rusty or just beginning your spinning journey, I suggest you use the larger whorl so things happen more slowly until you feel ready to increase the speed a bit.
ALWAYS ensure you are sitting comfortably in a chair with a suportive back, and that your legs are not over stretched, nor too squashed in. You should ensure you are in the correct postural position so that you do not cause yourself pain when sitting to spin over a long period of time…. TIP: It might be beneficial to try several chairs and also to have small stretch breaks during spinning sessions.
Pop your drive band on the appropriate whorl and give a few treadles as you hold the leader. If you feel no uptake to the bobbin at all, slightly tighten the scotch tension brake until you can feel the flyer is only just beginning to tug. You may or may not need to put some tension on your drive band but you should not need to with an empty bobbin and this can be adjusted as the bobbin fills…. let’s move onto our fibre!
Preparing to Spin – Pre-Drafting.
Sock yarn needs to be created using the SHORT DRAW or WORSTED METHOD. Our aim is to produce a yarn that is consistent, smooth and close textured. Our yarn needs to be compact and durable, resistant to piling, felting or abrasion. Short Draw spinning, sometimes referred to as “inch-worming” due to the drafting motion used, is the way to achieve a yarn with all of these qualities.
This sock yarn is actually going to be “semi worsted”; as to be a “true worsted” it must be spun from tops that have not been carded in any way.
In fact most spinners produce either a semi worsted or a semi woollen yarn, we can talk explore thesedifferences and their definitions at a later date…
Everyone has their own way to spin that feels comfortable to them. There is no right or wrong way… perhaps you normally spin directly from pulled off sections from your batts, rovings or tops. Maybe you prefer to spin natural fleece “in the grease” or scoured with no further preparation; whatever your particular preferences; for the purposes of spinning our sock yarn using our blended batts, I hope that you will find it equally useful to pre-draft your fibre into nests and this is where we will focus our energies now.
Separate a small section from your batt. Tearing it lengthways down the batt. You may wish to tear this removed section again if it is too thick… I suggest a width of about three fingers wide….Beginning at one end start to pull/draft this out… we know our staple is about 5-7 inches long, so I tend to pull about 2 – 3 inches at a time working steadily and evenly along to the other end. I then go back to the beginning and gently ball this up around my hand so that my starting point is coming from the centre of the nest which sits in my lap as I spin from it.
A week or so ago I mentioned keeping the batts the same way round when removing them from the carder, laying them from roots to tips…. This is where you will see and feel why I mentioned this…. Like human hair, animal fibre has a “cuticle” which when smoothed from root to tip is smooth, but when smoothed in the opposite direction feels more resistant to allowing your fingers to slide along it easily as the cuticles are like tiny barbs which will catch against other cuticle barbs making the fibre less easy to draft smoothly…. Try this with some of the batt (or even your own hair). Can you feel which is the root and which is the tip end of the batt?
The reasons to pre-draft are so that when I sit to spin, I can spin at a good rate without having to stop and start too often. Pre-drafting allows my spinning time to flow. I will naturally produce a much smoother more consistent yarn if I work like this as most of the drafting is already done and so only a minimal amount of drafting is needed when spinning.
I will only pre-draft as much as I will spin in any one session so that the pre-drafted nests do not have to sit waiting long – storing them renders them susceptible to becoming compacted as the fibres will begin to settle together over time….. When spinning from a nest that has been stored, the fibre will not flow out so well….. Also storing nests of fibre is not easy as they take space as you attempt to protect them and can very easily become squashed.
This is the same when spinning from rolags as these will settle in the same way, so only make as many as you will spin in any one session, set them or the nests carefully in a basket or box at a handy height and distance to where you will sit to spin.
Now sit back and watch me pre-drafting in this video… you may wish to replay it as you pr-draft your own fibres ready for next week when we begin; with the assistance of more video footage; to spin our singles!
Until then, I hope you have fun with all your fibre adventures, see you again, same place next week!Dee x
written by Spinningmad Dee
and supplies by Sara at www.SarasTextureCrafts.com