Spinning Thread for Meaningful Stitching
Spinning wheel: you will need a spinning wheel in good working order set up to spin thin yarn. Be sure that your wheel is well-lubricated if lubrication is required. Thin yarn requires more twists per inch than thick yarn, so you may wish to move your driveband to a smaller whorl than you would normally use and/or slightly loosen the brakeband to reduce take-up on a Scotch tension wheel. If your wheel uses a nylon monofilament brakeband, consider substituting a tight-spun fine crochet or tatting cotton for the monofilament, as nylon can be ‘grabby’ and the thinner cotton allows finer control of tension. If the brakeband spring is relatively stiff, try using a small rubber band instead, as this will more easily absorb minor changes in tension as you spin.
If you’d like to test these suggestions, please do so well in advance of the workshop!
If you normally spin for fingering or aran weight knitting yarns, or have an Irish tension (also known as bobbin-led) wheel such as the Louet S10 please take a few minutes to experiment before the workshop.
You will also need three bobbins and (if possible) a tensioned lazy kate to spin a 2-ply yarn unless you have good experience using an Andean Plying Bracelet for lively fresh-spun fine singles.
Spindle: Use the spindle and plying technique you would normally use for fine yarns.
Many of us spin yarns to hand weave fabric for garments, but we can also spin yarns for threads for hand-sewing to assemble and embellish those garments – or anything else! In this workshop we will look at both modern and historic textiles to see different threads used for different purposes. We will talk about how what you want the thread to do – even in some cases the type of fabric you wish to stitch – should influence your decisions about structure and fibre choice. We’ll discuss the number of plies, the type and quality of fibre to use, tools to help you spin and ply consistently, and then put this information to use (and talk about how to adjust your wheel for fine spinning) as we spin two different fibres, silk and wool.
My husband and I returned to Canada in 2017 after 40 years in the United Kingdom, where I learned to spin, to weave, that I did not in fact HATE stitching, and that historic textiles are an incredible resource for spinners, for weavers, and for people interested in the history and meaning of cloth. Each year I regret more the time I wasted reading about making things, so I am increasingly passionate about helping others make the things they dream of.
This workshop does not require a specific kit. You are welcome to source the materials from your stash or local fibre supplier.
Although coloured fibres are pretty, dyeing may change the feel of a fibre and/or make it more difficult to draft, and it is usually easier to see twist angle on a light-coloured yarn. Please use undyed fibre for this workshop. If you wish to spin from your stash, choose good-quality long-staple silk with as few nepps as possible. Choose a medium to long wool with some lustre; avoid fine, soft wools such as merino that will become soft, sticky threads.
I will be spinning undyed Bombyx (also known as Mulberry) silk top and undyed (white) Ashford Corriedale top. Blue Face Leicester top would be a good alternative to Corriedale.
All are available from www.fibregarden.ca 50g of each should be ample for this workshop.