My spinning time has been quite varied recently: following the success of the Twilight Humbug roving (Gayle! Humbug roving is roving containing stripes of the natural sheep’s colours, like a mint humbug. You can see some great examples here; the BFL and Shetland are both a lot of fun to play with…), I moved on to kettle-dyed locks.
Kettle-dyeing fleece is very different to hand painting top, or roving, or yarn for that matter. You are working with a much less processed stage of the wool, so it is much less homogeneous. Different areas of the fleece have different qualities, including length, fineness, greasiness, crimp… the list goes on! In addition, the tips of the fleece may take dye differently to the butt ends of the locks, so you can get some very interesting effects:
What you can’t get, so much, is predictability – or repeatability. For a scientifically creative soul like myself, this is both thrilling and intensely frustrating.
Spinning dyed locks is also very different to working with prepared top or roving. Of course, you could card or comb the locks, just like anything else, but with such thrillingly multicoloured fibre, why would you want to?
In addition, I’m a fundamentally lazy soul. I’d much rather spend my time behind the spinning wheel than weilding a pair of hand cards. So I’ve been flicking, and spinning directly from the lock. Pictures follow – though not of the wonderful rainbow above: my test locks are Kerry Hill, dyed to a more uniform purple – though you can still see the different colour at the tips and butts:
And here’s my secret weapon – a flick carder from Ashford:
The head of a flick carder is about half the size of a regular hand-card, and the handle is much longer. Also, they don’t come in pairs! Flick carders are used singly, to open up the ends of locks in preparation for further processing (which can, of course, mean going straight to spinning). So, how well does it work, would you say?
Frankly, I’m amazed. Here’s a lock of the fleece before flicking:
The tip of the lock is resting on my index finger; that bit tends to be dryer, crispier and slightly brittle. The butt end of the lock, hanging over my index finger, tends to be slightly greasier.
And here’s how flicking opens up the end:
Sproing! Both ends flicked:
And really, can you imagine a more perfect prep? Look how open and even it is! And again: one lock unflicked; one lock flicked:
And then? Fold it over your finger…
…and spin from the fold!
(Or you can spin from the end, for a more worsted style yarn, but this particular fleece is just *begging* for longdraw).