Monday, June 29, 2015

Take 5: Speed Spinning with Alexis of #TeamLouet & Cob Cottage Craft

Welcome back to another guest post from the Take 5 Blog Series! Today's blogger is the top spinner for #TeamLouet for the past 2 years of Spinzilla; last year, she was among the overall Top 5 spinners for the entire event, clocking in at 26,384 yards! She definitely played a huge role in our team's third place finish last year, and I consider Alexis to be our not-so-secret weapon. I asked her to share some of her tips for spinning at maximum speed with my blog readers this week. Enjoy!

If you’re thinking ahead, July's Tour de Fleece can be a great warm up for Spinzilla, a time to try new techniques and fibres and maybe even time yourself to discover how to maximize yardage in your available spinning time. Of course there are other times one might give a thought to speedy spinning…...winter fast approaching, dire need of a new sweater? Or perhaps a sheep to shawl competition (I’ve never participated in one but I would love to)?  Fibre stash threatening to take over your house (this might be happening here)? Must spin faster!

Here are my top 5 tips for making the most yarn out of your spinning time:

1. Consider the sheep: While we all love merino, fine wools require many more twists per inch than other wools. The general rule is that there is a correlation between crimps per inch and ideal twist per inch. The romney fleece in my stash has less than 12 per inch while merino can have more than 30. More twists take more treadles and more time no matter how fast you can draft. This can be a great time to experiment with rare breeds. Down breeds lend themselves well to woolen style spinning. Romney has a reputation for being a fast spinning fibre. Longwools can make wonderful yarns with loads of drape, shine and few twists per inch. Now is a great time to experiment; Spinzilla is a great way to spin yourself a sweater quantity. What wool will you choose?
2. Preparation: Rolags and batts lend themselves well to woolen spinning creating a soft and airy yarn. Top or sliver spins best with short draw creating worsted style yarns. What style of fibre preparation is fastest for you? Experiment! I find that batts and rolags of wool are my fastest fibres. A friend finds cotton punis a speedy spin. With practice, I might agree with her but I’m a beginner where cotton is concerned.
3. Drafting technique: A good long-draw draft with fibre prepared for woolen style makes the yarn just fly off your fingertips. Try this with Romney in a roving or carded preparation; with practice it will feel like magic!

4. Ratios: How fast is your wheel? While you can treadle faster, it’s hard to keep up a high cadence and harder on your body. Spinning should be relaxing. A wheel with high speed ratios can vastly speed up your production.
5. All the other stuff: This includes the time you spend plying and winding off. What speeds up efficiency? I love giant bobbins for plying and the resulting giant skeins of yarn. The other stuff also includes ways to make more time for spinning. Clutter tolerance is crucial. The less time you spend cleaning, the more time for spinning. Remember, think of all the piles of wool as decor!

Alexis of  lives on a small island in the Salish sea and endeavors to spin as fast as she collects wool. Other wooly endeavors include spinning for Team Louet North America in Spinzilla and sample knitting for Louet and Asa Tricosa among others. She loves to write about all things fibre.

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