Week 5 Lab Data — Group A

Due to the nature of this particular lab, there is very little quantitative data recorded here — most “data” collected was subjective to our experiences. However, I did record times for some events, and these are included here on the off chance that they’re somehow helpful

Learning to Spin

1:50 — Everyone receives a spindle, lead string, and small ball of Cotswold wool (balled up by machine, not hand). The Cotswold wool is soft, fluffy, off-white, and holds together to a soft tug, although not if you pull firmly.

1:53 — We learn to drop spin. This always happens clockwise. In order to add new wool, you have to “marry” the two pieces of wool together with your fingers, letting them spin together. We learn some new terminology: “parking” means to stop spinning by placing the spingle under your arm or between your legs, “drafting” means pulling wool thinner to spin finer thread. We also learn that shorter rods require more stopping to wind thread.

2:03 — We struggle to understand how to knot the lead on the spindle.

2:06 — We attach the lead threads and wrap them clockwise around the spindle, successfully spinning the lead thread.

2:33 — With varying degrees of success with spinning, mostly due to issue with parking or drafting, we separate into three groups to move through wool stations.


Group A began at the carding station, where we had the opportunity to card two different types of wool: Cotswold and Soay.

Cotswold Observations:

  • It’s difficult to maintain a consistent thread width
  • Raw Cotswold is made of soft ringlets and is a little dry
  • Could fit less of the Cotswold on the card without much of it falling off; carding with less wool is easier
  • We learn quickly to card on the wool, not the card
  • Spencer says his wrists are more sore than his arms; he uses a back-and-forth wrist motion to card
  • MJ and I use our arms/shoulders more than wrists; these hurt more
  • Spencer: carding is very “kinetically satisfying”
  • The wool in the middle of the cards gets carded finer; the corners are still in ringlets
  • In “cloud state”, the Cotswold is soft and hangs in the air when thrown up
  • We have to position the wool carefully on the cards or it gets stuck in the middle, making it harder to card
  • David picks out the well-carded top layer from his cards in order to better access the underlayers
  • Pulling apart ringlets by hand can be an effective way to “card” them

Soay Observations:

  • Raw Soay is in dry, rough clumps
  • It’s easier to stick onto the cards than the Cotswold
  • It stretches out less because it’s shorter hairs
  • Spencer finds it more difficult to card because it’s thicker; I personally found it easier since it was less tangled together in ringlets
  • While carding, hairs separate out by length naturally
  • You can add more wool to the card after an initial carding
  • At 2:46, Spencer discovers a new method of switching that only works for Soay: pulling back on the wool to remove it from the card
  • Carded Soay is more dense — “not a cloud”
  • We learn that burrs can’t be removed after carding — they get too enmeshed. They need to be pulled out beforehand
  • Carded Soay is still much softer than uncarded, but still dense
  • I can feel that it’s unwashed — the lanolin is greasy on my fingers
  • Spencer: “my hands feel moisturized by all the lanolin”
  • Unwashed Soay is Very Dirty and leaves cloud of dirt where it was carded

General Observations:

  • David receives the cards at 2:50
  • Wool falls off the cards if not deeply embedded in spikes
  • David uses a manual switch rather than one involving the cards
  • He has to continually rub the wool into the spikes because so much has built up
  • It’s a little easier to card with one card on his leg because he can exert more pressure on that card
  • At 2:56, I start carding; Spencer and MJ record
  • I find it “difficult”
  • It’s really important to start the fibers going in the direction you can to card in or it becomes much more difficult
  • I say that this would be much more enjoyable in a community setting
  • Jake plays “Greek Jams” for us in response to request for music
  • It’s hard to keep types of wool separate in carding — there’s always some left on the cards
  • We have to pick out less well-carded bits of wool to re-card
  • At 3:15, David sits on the floor to card, left card on knee, says it’s easier with a big mass of wool to deal with


We relocated to the spinning station, which was outdoors. The weather was lovely and a little breezy.

  • It’s difficult at first to combine the Soay into the Cotswold, but the Soay wraps better into a more uniform thread
  • Soay breaks apart more easily if spun fine
  • Me: “I am learning I would not want to do this outside” because of the wind blowing the wool all around
  • Relatedly, if the wool gets blown into the spinning string, it becomes attached to that string, making it untenably fluffy
  • Spencer: “the less Jacob there is, the better” — we find the Jacob wool difficult to manage due to its bulk
  • We learn that skipping steps in the process makes things more difficult later — you don’t want to spin unwashed wool
  • I, personally, would want to do spinning communally
  • The Jacob wool is “much thicker”
  • As yarn accumulates on the spindle, it becomes easier to roll it on your leg while sitting as opposed to dropping it
  • My right arm hurts from holding up the wool (I am sitting down at this point)
  • The un-machine-balled Cotswold (and, reportedly, other wool) comes out finer and is actually easier to work with (especially the Jacob)
  • Spencer reports achieving self-acceptance through spinning


Lastly, we moved to the weaving station.

  • The stick gets more unwieldy the further it gets from the start of the loom
  • Overall sense of weaving: painstaking process
  • We understand why loom weights were good now that we have to thread this stick through all the threads
  • A perfect arc must be achieved
  • Having to pull the needle back out due to a misstep is “unpleasant”
  • It helps to keep a finger in the corner of the loom when pulling the arc out to keep the thread from lifting
  • To achieve a tight weave, you have to push down hard with the comb
  • A buddy helps for skein-holding
  • The indigo yarn gets a much longer needle
  • At 4:23, we debate cutting the yarn we want to change out for new yarn vs. tucking the ends into the next yarn we weave
  • At 4:26, we question whether we have threaded the loom correctly — we just kind of winged it
  • We decide to “weave back in the ends”
  • MJ is “currently not” in a state of inner peace, but understands how one could get there while weaving
  • At 4:33, Alejandra saves us and explains that sometimes when you misweave you can just cut the string and weave in the end — “no one will know!”

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