Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Spinning Cotton; consistency vs. creativity (or, the focus of my focus)

I was noticing in some spinning workshop listing (SOAR perhaps, I can’t find it now) that one of the classes offered was titled something like “spinning for consistency”. At the time, the little “oh!” “finger on lip, isn’t that a coincidence!” reaction was instant.

Of late, I have been watching myself spinning very carefully, pondering why some of my spinning is consistent from start to finish and some of it starts out one diameter, and ends up something else.

At first take, one would think that inconsistency resulted from not paying attention.

In my case, I discovered that it comes from paying too much attention. Let me try and explain how you can pay too much attention.

Right now, I am spinning brown cotton on the mezzo spindolyn. As a singles, it is running a consistent 49 wraps per inch.


Here is what I have discovered is happening with me. I am fascinated with how cotton drafts.
It is so lovely, how those soft little fibers spread out as you draft, like little clouds blown by winds. I get sucked into how cotton drafts. I like to play with it, like you might play with your finger’s effect in the current of a little stream. I noticed that you can draft with your hands close to the cotton in a pinching/pulling motion and make the cotton so thin, or you can just draft using one hand, letting the the cotton tumble into the energy of the twist all on its own, keeping up your draft speed is the key to the consistency and thickness (or desired thinness)

Playing with your drafting styles because you are fascinated with the cotton’s ability to accept twist, even though the fibers are so thin and tiny compared to wool, is not a recipe for consistency…..but play is good, right?

So, to improve my consistency with cotton, I need to focus on my focus, not on my play. I need to decide on a drafting style and stick with it…this will be hard, but I think I have played enough, and will be able to do this in order to achieve my goal of a consistent cotton two ply for a lace item.

Enough rambling about my mental propensity for is an actual tip for spinning cotton on the spindolyn. Draft out your spun cotton to your desired length. Then, before you wind on, give your spindolyn one more twirl, and let this extra amount of twist run up into your spun length, then wind on that length of yarn.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Helping Middle Tennessee, thank you all for asking…

Now that the floodwaters are receding, and clean up is well underway, it is easy to see that it is going to be a long and expensive road to recovery for the area. I know that Nashville proper will quickly get back on its feet to get the tourist dollars flowing, but the more economically strained communities, which were the hardest hit, will need a lot of help.

There is also a fund for help for musicians, which for me is a particularly sympathetic cause. Many people don’t realize that if you are not a “Current Artist” or a “Star”, if you are just starting out or a “used to be”, or “just a sideman” you are making slim wages with most likely no insurance. It is this latter group that is the backbone of the music world, the foundation that brings you the “sound” that everyone loves to enjoy. Many of these folks have lost all their equipment and are now “washed up” without help. An average “rig” necessary to get gigs can reach 6,000 or more to replace. These folks give their hearts every night, so I put their cause on the top of the list to give back to them.

MusiCares (the Grammy organization's non-profit arm) has established a Nashville Flood Relief Fund. To donate, click here.

  • Middle Tennessee Red Cross (this site has a banner for each or the rural areas)
    Middle Tennessee Red Cross is continuing to garner financial support to continue providing relief to victims of local disaster flooding. For those who have been displaced or need help you can contact the Red Cross - there is also a listing of local shelters on their website. Folks wishing to donate can do so online at

  • Hands On Nashville focuses its efforts on providing volunteers to flood relief efforts. You can make a donation here.

    To donate to the flood relief efforts of the Nashville Area Salvation Army, click here.

    The Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee has established the "Metro Nashville Disaster Response Fund," with all donated funds to aid flood victims. Click here.

    Thursday, May 6, 2010

    Spindolyn Capacity and flooding

    A spinner (thank you Deborah!) recently asked me exactly how much fiber the spindolyn will hold. I had intended to write her back immediately and tell her that the spindolyn is "built for comfort, not for speed" and it holds about half as much as a regular drop spindle, but then, that isn’t exactly the truth, the truth is, as with a lot of things is “it depends”.

    Because it is a support spindle, as it fills, the accumulating weight slows it down, so you do have to wind off much sooner than a high whorl drop spindle, the flip side of that is that it is so easy to use, wind on and wind off, that it is not a real big hardship to loose in capacity what you gain in convenience and control.

    The actual quantity an individual can spin and wind on to the spindolyn depends on the type of fiber, and the technique for winding on. I have a lot of experience (well, that sounds silly) but I tend to mindfully wind tight and evenly balanced, which keeps the center of gravity, well, centered, and I can get a lot more fiber on than someone who is just learning to use a spindolyn, but you will still reach a weight limit point.

    But then her question got me curious, and I decided that I would hold off on writing her until I could do some experiments and weighing of actual amounts. I currently have some heavier worsted weight targhee singles going on a tenor spindolyn, some sock weight jacob on a mezzo, and some organic cotton on a soprano spindle ..thinking that a rainy day was coming up and maybe I could finish these, spin up a second spindle for each one, ply them and weigh them up and give actual amounts.


    Here is a spindolyn full of worsted weight targhee singles (sloppily wound on, btw) about an ounce.

    And below the above spindle-full and another wound off and then plied back onto a spindolyn, to make a soft and squishy, bouncy targhee weighing in at approximately 2 oz.


    Boy, a leisurely weekend of spindolyn spinning and making spindolyns was not how the weekend went down.

    As you may be aware, the Middle Tennessee area experienced record rains, torrential downpours and severe flooding over the weekend. Between the power outages and the creek flooding the farm, moving the animals to higher ground, moving stuff out of the way of landslides, hiking out to get to a vehicle and so fourth, I have had little spinning time...Then when the water went down, there was so much clean up work to do, and repair of my driveway and incoming road (by hand) there just has not been much time.

    I do hope to finish this project and get the numbers up when the clean up is over. If you are curious about my creek (you can see a video and some pictures here.)

    One thing I don’t understand is why the media has not really mentioned much about the serious and widespread nature of this flood. Yes, Nashville was hit hard, but there are so many counties (50 something) in the entire middle Tennessee area where people lost homes and businesses, the roads have become impassable, people are stranded with bridges out. It will be months and months before many roads will be made passable, and the economic impact in the rural areas is being ignored, but it is just as devastating for all of middle Tennessee as it is for Nashville. I am so lucky that my house and barn both sit on little rises, and that I was able to dig my way out and build a water crossing.

    Welcome to Spindolyns At Cady May's Corner

    Frequently Asked Questions   Etsy Store