Due to the nature of this lab, most of the data I collected as data collector is qualitative and anecdotal to my experience and the experience of my group members.
Learning to Spin
The first activity we didi in this lab was learn to spin using out hand spindles that Alejandata gave us. The spindle we were given takes the longest to spin on, whereas other hand spindles, such as the turtle spindles, allow one to sin more quickly. IN order to use spindle, first you need to tie a starter twine around the spindle. Then, you wrap the string around the spindle two times and loop it twice around the hook of the spindle. Once this is accoplished, one can add a portion of wool to the string. Once the wool is added to the top of the string, you can spin the spindle couture clockwise to start turning the wool into yarn. This was quite difficult for myself, and I only had a meagre couple inches of yarn spun before we moved to the next section. Other members of my group, such as John, had spun their entire allotment of wool before we moved sections.
Station 1: Spinning with other types of wool
The first type of wool we were spinning with was cotswold wool. Once we got outside to this station, we were given the opportunity to spin Jacob wool. I was not able to spin the Jacob wool because I was having great difficulty. Austin explained to me that I was over spinning my wool and causing it to kink, which was impeding my progress. However, other members of my group were able to spin the Jacob wool. Grace remarked that it was more difficult to spin than the cotswold because it was thicker due to its shorter fiber length. She had a hard time getting it as thin as her cotswold yarn. However, John remarked that he liked the Jacob wool more, and he was spinning it the same way as the cotswold and was able to get it as thin. However, Grace and John both remarked that if you make a mistake with the Jacob wool, it is easy to fix due to its thickness.
Station 2: Weaving
The next station we went to was the weaving station. I overall observed that people were able to pick this up very quickly in my group. To weave, first you need to “weave” a wooden slate through the strands of string on the weave in an over-under fashion. After this is done, you turn the slate on its side so it pushes the strings on the weave apart. After this is done, it creates an open space to push the yarn through. Then, you remove the slate, at which point the yarn becomes pressed between the string. Then, you create a “rainbow” shape with the yarn, making sure both ends of the rainbow are touching the bottom of the weave (later the bottom of the last row weaved). Then, you use a comb-like tool to push the string down, and a row is weaved. Zach picked this up particularly quickly, and described the task as highly intuitive. He was able, by the end, to do a row in a little over a minute. John also picked up this task quickly. I liked it too because the steps of it were more concrete to me than the steps with spinning.
Station 3: Carding
The final station we went to was the carding station. The purpose of carding is to get “fresh” wool into a state where it can be spun on the spindle. The process of carding seems to thin out the wool and make it a uniform texture. To card, you place wool on the edges of a carding brush. Then, you take the other carding brush and start to brush it all out. In order to adequately card the side of the wool that is pressed into the brush, you need to do a flip maneuver with the two brushes, in which you lock the brushes together and flip the wool over. No one in my group could accomplish this, so the other side of all our wool was not as nicely carded as the front side of the wool. That being said, this did not matter much for the cotswold wool because the long fiber length made it very easy to card and thin out. Crding the Jacob wool was a bit more difficult for my group and did not seem to thin out as easily as the cotswold. The soay we found unanimously to be the hardest wool to card— it is very thick and had a greasy texture due to the lanolin in it. The lanolin is great for sweaters and using the wool but not so great for carding.
At this station, we all had time to try out hand at spinning other types of woo. John was doing a great job spinning the soay and spinning colored wool. He said the soay was harder to spin, but if you mix the soay and the cotswold, spinning becomes much easier. Adding color to the cotswold did not make it any harder to spin than uncolored wool. Grace and I had this same experience. We both tried spinning pure soay wool, and found it did not spin as easily as the cotswold. Particularly, while the soay would seem to be spun, it came undone much more easily than the cotswold, and would not stay in its spun form for long unless you really put in a lot of time spinning it on the spindle.
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