Thursday, March 17, 2016

Finding the Perfect Fiber for Every Purpose...The "S" Word.




Beth Smith enjoying the day
The spinners took time out from their British breeds study to participate in a weekend workshop on American Breeds and the hows and whys of fleece preparation with Beth Smith. It was a fun weekend in Solon.  No, that apron doesn't mean Beth is one of the 'housewives of Solon',  but we did make a mess and we did have a lot of fun. We laughed, carded and plied, and laughed, combed and plied and flicked and plied some more. And Laughed some more.  Amazing how different the same fleece looks based on which preparation I used prior to the spinning. And Beth did use that "S" word ALOT!.

Shocking I know, the "S" word. As weavers, spinners, knitters or quilters, we don't often like the "S" word. SAMPLING, that is.  We think it's just more work and just too much time. WELL, I'm going over to the dark side; sampling really did make a difference. There will be significantly less wasted time, less wasted fiber and more successfully completed projects. You do spend time up front planning and sampling, but then you can simply fly. All the bugs have been worked out, no surprises, no bumps in the road and I have to admit, when a project comes together just like I wanted,  I love what I do. When it doesn't, not so much.  The "S" word, SAMPLING,  hmmm, maybe a pseudonym for success.

Hand combing
Each type of prep is based not just on what kind of fleece, but also what is the project this fiber will be used for. Each fiber is best suited for a specific project after a specific prepping. For example, some preps create fluffy or fuzzy fiber, which is not the best fit for lace.

Vicki using the long draw to spin

Linda is using hand coombs
Bev using her hand to wind off prior to plying.
Julianna checking out a resource in Beth's book
 Beth has authored a intriguing guide to spinning entitled The Spinner's Guide to Fleece. It describes the how's and why's of spinning and then catalogues individual breeds. It serves as an excellent resource for many of us novice spinners.

 On the second day of the workshop, she discussed several American Breeds. Samples of American Jacob were prepared and it will be interesting to compare the American Jacob with that of the British Jacob (Part of our British breeds study) We know there is a size difference, but are there any other differences. All I can say is stay tuned.

A Handwoven skirt Beth made from her Homespun wool

As the week end came to an end, we left tired, enthused and excited to try yet another fleece.  Happy spinning.