Singular Thinking

My Spinzilla is finally underway. After squawking for weeks to others to do their prep ahead of time, I had a total fail in that department.  Between organizing Spinzilla and working on the book, my own wheel has been sorely neglected these past few months.  After a late night wheel tune-up and stripping and prepping my fiber, I am finally at my wheel after months of leaving it barren.

My Spin Begins!

Spinzilla began over three years ago with a conversation between me and Constance Hall.  First it was personal, “why don’t we spin more?” and then it got radical, “how can we get others to spin more?”  Spinzilla was born out of countless people’s efforts to create an event that would embrace the global spinning community and make some noise in the yarn universe and beyond.  What makes me happy is it to see all the spinners who have dusted offer their wheels after leaving them neglected in the corner and taking them out for a spin.  I am no exception.

What I do with my handspun

I’m a lazy spinner. I love to fill bobbin after bobbin with yarn, but I don’t have the patience for plying. I already spun the yarn once, why do I need to spin it again? Harnessing the energy in singles offers the spinning weaver so many great cloth-making opportunities. I bet the yarn you are spinning right now will weave up beautifully. The secret is in the sauce.

Sizing

Weaving with singles has two challenges. The first is that they are hard to manage. The twist energy causes the yarn to kink making warping or weaving with it in its native state a pain. The second is that they may be fragile. I have found this to be the lesser of the two challenges. Based on my own observation over the past 20 years, the average comfort spinner most likely spins a singles yarn with somewhere between 25- to 30-degrees of twist. This goodly amount of twist will give almost any fiber the stability it needs to hold up to the rigors of the rigid heddle.

Sizing singles will harness the yarn’s energy temporarily and protect it during the weaving process. Sizing is made by creating a paste from household items such as flour or starch.  My favorite sizing is made from xanthan gum, a thickener used in many foods. It is available at most health food stores and some grocery stores. Xanthan was recommended to me by Sarah Anderson and ever since I tried it I’ve used it exclusively. It is very gentle on yarn allowing me to size my homegrown cashmere without fear.

The fabrics you can make with singles are fascinating and utterly unique. The Crepe Cowl Workbook gives you all the information you need to start weaving with singles including fiber selection, preparation, spinning techniques, measuring twist, sizing recipe, and a worksheet to design your first handspun crepe cowl. I find this project is like potato chips.  It’s hard to stop at just one.

Crepe Cowl Samples

Happy spinning and weaving!

Liz

P.S. It is National Spinning and Weaving Week, American Craft Week, and Wool Week.  It’s a perfect time to get back to your craft.