Due to the nature of this lab, the data that was recorded is mostly qualitative rather than quantitative.
Part 1: Learning how to spin
- At approximately 1:55 pm, Alejandra begins teaching us how to drop spindle.
- We are given a wooden spindle, a string, and a bundle of wool to start.
- We are instructed to bring the two ends of the string together and tie a knot at the end.
- The next step was to loop the string around the spindle and secure it with the knotted side closest to the spindle. This step also took a long time as Alejandra was very skilled and quick at setting up the spindle and she did it so fast that it was hard to follow her movements and replicate them.
- Next we were instructed to pull a small piece of wool off of our ball (I started with about 8 inches).
- We looped the end of the wool through the string in a U-shape to secure it before beginning to turn the spindle clockwise until it moved up the string and into the wool.
- The wool began spinning pretty quickly and once you got the hang of it, it was pretty easy to keep it going.
Part 2: The Stations
Station 1: Spinning outside with Austin
Here are some of the observations that we had at the spinning station:
- The cotswold wool is very soft compared to the jacob and the soay.
- Sam thought that the jacobs wool was easier to spin because it was thicker and therefore made a thicker yarn with less effort. In my experience, this made it harder because it was much more difficult to draft and get even. For me, the jacob caused a lot of issues while spinning due to the shorter fleece length.
- John also preferred the jacobs wool because if you accidently got it too thin, it was easy to add more and thicken it back up.
- Sam tried to spin the medium-carded cotswold wool and said that the uncarded bits just got in the way of the spinning and made his yarn much less consistent.
- The machine carded wool that we started with was the easiest to spin.
- The cotswold was also very fuzzy when spun. Had a lot of fuzzy bits coming out of the yarn.
- We noticed that we could stay out there and spin forever. Time went by so fast while we were all just chatting and spinning together. We definitely got a sense of the community component of wool working while at the spinning station.
- Everyone had their own style of spinning. We could tell who’s yarn was who’s by the end of the station.
Station 2: Weaving on the Loom
Observations from weaving with Alejandra:
- We used indigo dyed cotswold yarn for our weaving
- Sam started and he got the hang of it really quickly. It is an easy process to learn, but a hard thing to do well.
- Placing the heddle is the most time-consuming part of the process. If you used the same loom for a while, you would get into a groove with the heddle and get faster at it.
- Very intuitive process, once you got in the groove of it, it went faster and you didn’t want to stop.
- It was better to use yarn with a consistent thickness.
- Sam completed 3 rows in 10 minutes.
- Andrew guessed that he would accomplish two rows in 7 minutes and he did!
- Raine accomplished one row in 5 minutes.
- While others wove, everyone in the group continued spinning. We got better at spinning and it became more mindless.
Station 3: Carding with Jake
Observations from carding with Jake:
- We noticed that the cotswold was very easy to card. It became a fluffy cloud very quickly. It was very nice and easy to spin the freshly carded cotswold clouds.
- The soay wool was incredibly greasy (lanolin) and had a lot of dirt and burrs in it.
- You could only card a little bit of soay at a time because it was so thick and sticky. Took a very long time to card and even when it was done it did not form a nice fluffy cloud like the cotswold.
- The soay gets very clumped on the carders because it is so sticky.
- Soay wool smells like a real sheep. The other wool doesn’t really smell.
Side Quest: Spinning Soay
Observations from attempting to spin soay wool and the experiments we condicted:
- Soay needs to be much thicker when you begin to spin it due to how short and sticky the fleece is. If you make it too thin it simply will not spin.
- It was extremely difficult to get a uniform thickness with the pure carded soay.
- Our experiment: If we card the soay wool with some of the cotswold wool, the mixture will be much easier to spin.
- trial 1: this mixture had more cotswold than soay wool – it was very cloudy after carding and was much easier to spin than the full soay. It was easier to get it thin because the longer cotswold would hold the soay together.
- trial 2: this was a 50-50 mixture of cotswold to soay. This one was hard to card. The mixture kept getting caught in the carders. In the end, it actually produced a very nice cloud and was actually my favorite to spin. It had a really nice even thickness and was easy to draft while also maintaining a sort of structural integrity that neither the cotswold or the soay had on its own. It also created a really lovely black, brown, and white heather.