Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Great Wheel Plying

"The art of spinning was an honorable occupation for women as early as the ninth century; and it was so universal that it furnished a legal title by which an unmarried woman is known to this day. Spinster is the only one of all her various womanly titles that survives; webster, shepster, litster, brewster, and baxter are obsolete. The occupations are also obsolete save those indicated by shepster and baxter—that is, the cutting out of cloth and baking of bread; these are the only duties among them all that she still performs." written by Alice Morse Earle in the year MDCCCXCVIII

Yesterday was Rock Day...or Saint Distaff's Day, if you please.


I did return to my wheel. I finally made myself a Lazy Kate to hold the bobbins from the Great Wheel. I really needed something that would hold them, not only for storage, but for plying.

Up until now, I have been plying my Great Wheel spun yarns on the Ashford Traditional wheel. It took me a little time to find out how to do it correctly on the Great Wheel. For those non spinners reading along, a spinner should ply two single spun yarns together in the opposite direction from the way they were created. Spinners refer to the direction as Z-twist (or clockwise) and S-twist, (counterclockwise). It didn't seem right that I should spin my Great Wheel in the opposite direction to ply, although I have. This time around, I made an adjustment to the drive band, and now I can spin the wheel clockwise, whist the twist, and the spindle are going counterclockwise!

Great Wheel spinning and plying makes for a very woolen yarn....


I measured out a bobbin that was equivalent to 30 minutes of spinning. It measured 81 yards. I was pretty happy about that because most of my bobbins are about that size. It seems that if I make them any bigger, the tip of the cop is always ready to fall off or tangle. The reason that I am happy about this length is that it will be easy for me to produce these results again, and incidentally, 80 yards just happens to be equal to one lea. A lea is a "traditional unit of length for yarn, varying with the weight of the fibers in the yarn. Typically a lea of wool is 80 yards (73 meters); a lea of cotton or silk 120 yards (110 meters); and a lea of linen 300 yards (274 meters). For cotton and wool, a lea is equal to 1/7 hank. A lea is sometimes called a skein."

Now...I just have to make 7 of these to produce another traditional measure for a length of yarn...that would be called a hank!

The spun wool in the basket above represents one pound of Romney, that I purchased in the form of roving from Two Wool Crazy Ladies..both of whom I met at the Pennsylvania Endless Mountains Wool Festival in September of 2007.


Jacqui said...

wow! how beautiful your results are. the Romney is just lovely.

Cathy said...

Lots of superb info here - and your cops are gorgeous. Looks like your bobbin storage concept/lazy kate worked out.

Judy said...

Love your new lazy kate and the color of the romney. I didn't make it back to the wheel but hope to do so today during the sheep to shawl.

elizabeth said...

Very interesting about the titles given to women, and how sad that the one that survives also has a negative connotation!

cindy said...

Looks like you honored the day well.

Leigh said...

Interesting about the measurements. I'm not sure I could remember it very well however. Your yarn is lovely, and I'm really impressed with that lazy kate!

Wanda J said...

Good information to tuck away for future reference! It's interesting that originally leas (skeins) were rather small but it ties in what you've learned with your great wheel. It looks as though you have roughly 1300 yards ready for the next step.

Very cool that you figured out how to adapt the wheel.

Donna B said...

I didn't know that a person could ply on a great wheel! Hmmm. Maybe a tall, handsome great wheel will find me...lol. And now when I spin 80 yards it will feel like an accomplishment! :-)

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