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Summer Q&A

I realize it’s technically not summer, since it starts in earnest on the Solstice, but let’s face it: once school is out, it’s summer. Therefore, it’s been summer for several weeks now. Summer, it turns out, is just not my favourite season.

The reason why will perhaps be evident if I tell you it’s now 10:30 AM, and I started this post at 7 AM. The reason why will perhaps be evident if I tell you it’s now Monday at 7:41 AM, and I started this post on Friday at about 7. A huge part of the problem I have with summer is scheduling. I seem to get up somewhere around 6 AM and have an hour to 90 minutes before the rest of the house has to be up. This should be a fabulous get-things-done time, but in practice, I’m either slow starting or ruling out slews of things I might do then on the grounds that they’ll wake people up, at which point the morning starts and that time would be lost.

Once everyone’s up, I scurry around doing a few tasks here and there (empty dishwasher, straighten counters, that sort of thing) and, like the real mom I am, nag the manchild to eat his breakfast and pack his lunch for day camp. Does he have a towel? Must I find one? What about sunblock? Sometimes I manage to step away from micromanaging him (like now, when I’m upstairs in my office drinking coffee, and presumably he’s eating breakfast or packing his lunch. I wonder if he has a towel.) and I usually try to not just be the nagging mom, but of course it was a day I didn’t nag when he forgot his sunblock and got a horrible sunburn. Rationally of course I know it’s not my fault; the visceral parent-brain however continues to assert that I should have controlled that.

Driving him to camp takes 30-40 minutes. I always try to think of other errands that need doing out of the house, and have them lined up. I get home sometime between 9:15 and 10:30 and sit down, getting the feeling of having been up for 3-4 hours and, it always seems, accomplished nothing at all. From that point on, my day is a rush of trying to make sure Something Gets Done, right up until about 3:30 PM when it’s time to go collect the boy (and do any other errands that may have shown themselves to be necessary). By 4:15 when that’s all done, there’s a weird chunk of 45 minutes before the dinner prep starts. After dinner is family time.

The start-and-stop and run-around schedule makes it hard to get into a groove doing anything. I feel scattered all summer long, and totally unproductive, even when I’m getting things done, because it never seems like I tackle big, all-day jobs or anything. Being so interruptible, there are scads of things that get started and not finished, and I’m always afraid I’m totally forgetting something huge. I can never figure out where I put down my sunglasses. The boy can’t seem to remember to turn off his radio, ever, and it means I have to wade through the mess of his room to get to it because its constant on-ness fills me with rage. I never feel like I’ve had enough coffee, yet I know I’m draining the entire pot most days because I end up with iced coffee at some point. I look back at last year, same time, on the blog, and ask myself, “Am I measuring up to what I was getting done then?”

Well, realistically, I probably am; but I’m doing a few different things now. There is less production, and more writing, and more of the writing is not for the blog, but for other projects; but those projects pay me money. Since I’m selling more articles, that also seems to mean I’m putting fewer articles on the blog, and it’s grown less focused. So, I’ve been trying to think what I can do about all of that, to reduce my feelings of constantly posting cop-out things with little real substance to them. So this week I want to try something new: Summer Q&A.

Here’s how it works (this week, at least). On Monday, I’m going to name a topic or pose a question or something of that ilk. That’s where you come in. You leave a comment, asking a question relating to the topic of the week, or heck, any question at all, really. Throughout the week, in fits and starts, with bursts here and there, I’ll answer these questions. Sometimes it may be multiple answer posts throughout the week; other times, a big cohesive one on Friday. We’ll see how this goes and how it evolves, and perhaps it’ll be the answer to the fractured summer schedule.

Now that we’ve got that out of the way, what’s this week’s topic? Hrmmm. Well, how about “spinning from the fold?” Who’s got a question about this technique?

Free-for-all questions are also always welcome. I mean, if a bunch of you say “No, totally not spinning from the fold, what I’m dying to ask questions about is tying drive bands,” I still want to know what you’re wondering, and I love to be able to answer.

With that, it’s now time to commence the early morning home stretch, making sure lunch is packed and towel is ready and we’ll be out the door to camp soon. So let’s hear your questions about spinning from the fold!

57 thoughts on “Summer Q&A

  1. Excellent topic, in my personal opinion! So, tell us, what is it, and why do it? We beginning spinners DO want to know!

  2. Abby, love your idea of Q&A for summer.
    I’ve never spun from the fold but may give it a try. What staple length of wool would be the best to start out with? Thanks.

  3. I second Barbara’s questions!
    all that i’ve seen has had spinnning from the fold using the wheel – how challenging is it to spin from the fold using the drop spindle.

    also, what about spinning from the fold directly from washed/combed locks? i.e. what prep is best for spinning from the fold?

  4. Great topic! I have been spinning on a spindle for 8 months now and this is one drafting method I have not used. Is it useful for a range of fibre lengths or just short fibres? Thanks!

  5. Yes definitely – why you’d choose to spin that way instead of (what’s the opposite? spinning from the end?).

    Also, someday, maybe a quick primer on wheels? I have searched high and low to find out why someone would choose one or the other. So far, I’ve gotten several reasons for choosing SD, and the main reason for choosing DD is “personal preference”. But if it had no advantages over DD, why would someone develop a preference for it?

  6. Interesting – the first few comments all assume spinning wool from the fold. I use it for silk and it’s a favorite technique. When would it be useful for wool/what types of wool?

    (Love the summer question/discussion idea, by the way.)

  7. wow! you read my mind! i was going to research more about spinning from the fold this week, as i’m doing it, but not 100% satisfied with my results. what questions would i like answered? i’m so glad you asked!!!
    -do you spin with it over your finger? or do you fold it and then just keep it in your hand like normal fiber?
    -how do you prevent the little loops at the top of the fold from popping out at times while you’re spinning?
    -do you need to loosen up the fiber a LOT when you spin from the fold? or is the normal roving split a couple times enough?
    -how do you spin super thin when you spin from the fold? (i’m having issues getting it thin enough with it being doubled over itself)
    -what is spinning from the side of the fold? vs spinning from the fold itself?

    i think that’ll be enough for now. hahaha. i feel the same way about summers. winters you are shut in the house, so things seem to get done a little more easily. summer adds on more projects to tackle. gardening, bike riding, playing outside, bbq’ing, hosting family gatherings, going to family gatherings. it just fills every possible nook and cranny. fall will settle down, and then winter will start it all over again with the holiday season.
    speaking of which, time to tackle my house. HUGE project of the day. and as a treat? a little spinning (from the fold) this afternoon.

  8. Timely in deed. I do a tag-team learn to spin class with my pal Laura. After being with me for the last 2 weeks, they have a class with her and thats what we discussed she teach this week.
    So I will direct them here to read this blog topic. Thanks, it’s a great idea.

    As for spinning from the fold, I tend to use it with the slippery fibers. The last time I used it was with the spinning of that Black Diamond fiber from Louet.
    When doing that I plyed that single with Glenna’s silky grey combed locks(also spun from the fold). Putting a lot of twist into each single (I wanted the two ply for squiggle knitting). I wanted the yarn to have real bounce so I spun it tight. When spinning from the fold, I tend to draw it back with my left hand and just sort of smooth it with my right. Show us how you do it Abby. May be you and the Boy can make a video thingy on the blog thing, and give us an action shot thingy. Cool man.

  9. Perfect timing – I tried spinning some lovely Wensleydale top yesterday in my usual vaguely worsted sliding supported motion, aiming for laceweight, but it was driving me up the wall. Part of that was the normal new-fiber-incompetence, but part, I thought, was the spinning style did not suit the fiber. So, I retired to bed with a stack of old Spin-Offs, and somewhere in there, I hit upon the notion of spinning from the fold for long-staple fiber. I’ll try that tonight and tell you how it goes.

  10. I love spinning from the fold! It seems like magic somehow. And I won a competition using it to spin soysilk, which I had never spun before, based on advice from another competitor (who won her class as well).

    I spun and knit a pair of socks a couple of years ago as a technique experiment. I spun one sock worth from the fold and one from the end but using the same rovings (different combinations of four) to see how the colors came out differently. The sock spun from the fold blended the colors a lot more but they were both lovely to my eyes.

    So my question for the week is: What is your experience with spinning from the fold and how it affects the colors in a painted roving?

    I think this is a great idea!

  11. I’ve heard before that it’s best to spin short fibers from the fold, but I could never get the hang of doing it with merinos. However, with llama that was the only way I could do it evenly, but the singles seemed very hairy. What are the best fibers to use this with?

    Also, whenever I try to do it, I spin from the fold for a short time, then it ends up going back to my regular spinning. Am I taking on too much fiber at once?

    Lastly, what does this do to the finished yarn? Worsted, woolen…something in between? I don’t really know. Thanks!

  12. I don’t have a question about spinning from the fold, but I’d LOVE a Q&A about spinning woolen yarn!

    And I believe you went through this same period of feeling “unaccomplished” last summer. It must be the heat! You can always post about your WIPs. Lovely stuff.

  13. Perfect timing! How do you add new bits of fiber when you’re spinning from the fold? That is, do you have any advice/suggestions for the sideways/folded equivalent of layering a new strip of non-folded fiber over the last tuft of the old strip?

  14. How tightly do you grip the fiber when spinning from the fold? And how do you continue to add on more fiber?

  15. I started spinning some Alpaca from the fold however it’s still extremely slippery and I’ve found much more difficult (for me) to control the width of the single. Any secret tips?

  16. This post sounds like the story of my life, not just the summer, lol!
    “Did I do this? Did I read that? Is the house clean? How many completely unrelated things do I need to do today vs. how long I actually have to do them? Did I shower? Do I need to shower? Where’s the caffeine?”

    Definitely a typical day in a busy week for me. Most of my knitting seems to get done whenever I’m doing something that doesn’t require my hands to be busy every second…

  17. Okay, so this isn’t about spinning from the fold. It’s about that radio.

    Is it a clock radio, or can you put it on a timer, like for the lights when you’re on vacation, so the radio automatically shuts off at a certain time? If it *is* a clock radio, can you change to a different kind that can be put on an auto-shut-off? Or is there a way the clock can be set to shut it off?

    You can tell what kinds of things drive me around the bend .

  18. Thank god my days of getting kids off to camp/school are over.

    Second the clock radio suggestion–I have one that shuts off automatically after an hour. It has up to 90 minutes of sleep timer, and that’s what I use when I listen to the radio.

    Could you use that weird 45 minutes to get things ready for the next day? Or do it just before bedtime–make the kid responsible, but check on him until it’s a habit. Could you have a bag that’s packed with the necessaries like sunblock, so you don’t have to round things up every day?

    It’s such a balancing act between letting them do it themselves and take the consequences of a screw-up and making sure they’re safe and cared for. I don’t think I ever got it quite right.

  19. I have tried, both on my own and with an instructor, to learn how to spin from the fold, to no avail. I really would like to develop this skill especially since, according to my understanding, silk becomes easier to spin this way.
    So, first question is, just how on earth do you get started, once you have the fiber over your finger? With ordinary spinning, I have a looped yarn that I place the fiber on and give it a few twirls for strenth. But starting with the fiber over your finger just utterly buffaloes me.

  20. I’ve only spun from the fold for one small amount of top but found it useful. I was spinning some commercial merino top that was made up of several colours arranged vertically – a bit like those Ashland Bay tops. Spinning from the fold helped to keep the colours separate although I did find that at the end of each ‘chunk’ of top I would have a small amount where the colours were blended more.

    I’d like to know which long-draw/woollen technique you would recommend for someone who has to learn in isolation i.e. no access to hands-on tuition?

  21. What conditions (fiber, spinning style, time of day…) cause you to want to spin from the fold? How often do you use this technique, and why?

    Curious minds want to know … 🙂

  22. Several of my questions have been asked all ready. I have my first fleece, an Icelandic, and I was planning on spinning at least part of it from the lock. I’m a beginning spinner. Would spinning from the fold be the technique for this? If not, maybe the answer would fit for another week’s Q&A. Thanks for the great summer Q&A opportunity.

  23. The only use I’ve had for spinning from the fold is for a silk brick that had fibers of a bunch of different lengths. IME, it has to be a fiber that “bends” easily (not alpaca or mohair) if one wants a smooth yarn. But if you don’t want a smooth yarn, then it could be a design element!

  24. I’ve never tried spinning from the fold but it’s been on my mind to try recently.
    As for the manchild-all of this is nature’s way of letting you sit down the day you return from moving him out, whether it be to college or his own place and job and saying, oh, thank goodness. Don’t feel guilt over that moment, they either move back home at some point these days or grandkids pop up. So, actually, you’ll never really ever get over that feeling you didn’t get everything done you should have in a day. I decided to deal with it by just forgetting about it. But I do have nicely colored dust bunnies with all the roving bits they managed to pick up as they roll through…

  25. Wow! I hope you have a loooong time free to answer all the questions! Maybe you’d better make this fortnightly. I feel guilty adding one more, but if you can squeeze it in..

    Often when I spin from the fold I find that I end up lopsided – that is, spinning from the end instead all of a sudden. Any way to address this?

    Have a great day 🙂

  26. i LOVE spinning over the fold, it was my mentor’s favorite way to spin- straight from the lock & over the fold. there is something very satisfying about the spider like quality of it.

    everyone is in high favor of hearing about it and i would love you hear all you have to say about it but since you mention it i am having a hell of a time replacing a drive band, my wheel has not been the same since the old drive band broke and i can’t find the right twine or get it on quite right. its utterly frustrating. i’d love to hear any tips you have about drive bands some day as well.

  27. Hmmm…let’s consider this, spinning from the fold is advantageous for spinning long fibers such as silk. Perhaps comparing spinning from the fold from a commercial prep versus a hand prepared fiber.

  28. Ah, the song of the self-employed! I’ll join you on the chorus (though I’ve only my husband to nag.) Your blog is fun to read. I found it when I joined the weaveRing.

  29. I’m looking forward to the post about this, haven’t tried the technique yet. Like Emma I have no hands on experience/teacher and have to learn from books/internet/…

    One question I have has nothing to do perse with spinning with the fold, though it has the do with spinning. I am wondering : I hardly ever manage to spin my singles and then ply them in one sitting. So my singles are spun over several days (even weeks). Part has always spent some time on the bobbin. Once I’m done spinning the second bobbin I want to start plying right away. I read from several other people that they prefer to let both bobbins rest then for a while before plying them. Is this neccesairy? I hate having to wait as I love the plying and actually finishing up the yarn!

    I’m with you on the no Summer type! The long days confuse me and I prefer Winter overall!

  30. I love spinning from the fold. I’m very good at spinning the fiber in my hand until I run out of fiber…

    My problem is keeping a smooth yarn at each attachment of more fiber. There’s always a lump – how do I avoid that lumpy bumpy part with each handful of fiber.

    Do you publish a list on your blog of where to find all your articles?

  31. I secong the query about drivebands. My Ashford Traditional needs a new one and I’m uncertain about the right type of string. I can’t use the nes stretchy poly ones for I do living history with it the that material just won’t fly.

    Looking forward these Q & A’s…

    Ba

  32. Gosh, I can’t spell today…. Let’s try again…

    I second the query about drivebands. My Ashford Traditional needs a new one and I’m uncertain about the right type of string. I can’t use the new stretchy poly ones, because I use ot for Living History events. The poly cord just won’t fly…. (no wings..)(sorry)

    Looking forward to to these Q & A’s…

    Ba

    (yes, I double checked my spelling this time…)

  33. I’m afraid I have yet to enter the world of spinning, so no technical questions from me. I’m becoming more and more interested in learning though, in no small part to this blog/various posts of yours in other forums. As an obsessive (if incredibly slow) sock knitter, I’ve loved your sock series. Ah, the possibilities of handspun sock yarn! However, since my stash & I moved back in with my parents after finishing uni last summer, I think I owe it to them to tame my overflow of inherited yarn and actually unpack those year-old boxes properly before giving in to my raw fibre lust.

    Sp, in the meantime, I’d like to echo CC and ask if you have a list of articles you’ve published. I caught your Knittyspin review, but I’d really enjoy reading more.

  34. Yes! Drivebands! I have a stretchy one and am dreading the day it wears out (the whorls vary considerably, so this is a concern. Perhaps I should have two – one for the tiny whorls one for the larger ones?). What do you do on wheels where they’re attached such that you cannot just slip the old one off and a new band on the wheel? (for example, a Robin) Do you have to take the wheel apart? I JUST realized this would be a problem and cannot figure out how the stretchy band on my wheel got there and how on earth it could come off.

  35. Best way to make a join when spinning from the fold? Without having a clump of fibers at that point?

  36. OK, I tried spinning the Wensleydale from the fold – MUCH better, even though I’ve ever hardly spun that way before. But how do you keep the wad of fiber tidy when it gets down towards the end of the wad? I made the wad (there must be a better technical term) by pulling off several staple-length (7-8 inches) lengths of fiber off my drafted-up length of top, then holding all the lengths together side by side to make the wad. However, when I’d spun about 90% of the wad, there was a bunch of shorter fibers (maybe 3-4 inches) left on either side of my finger. What I did was stop spinning for a moment, rearrange all the fiber so the middles of the staples were over my finger, and started up again.

    I let a yard or so of the single ply back on itself, then washed it in hot water and a drop of Eucalan to see what it looked like. Not bad, I’d say, but I put a little too much twist in the singles, I think, because the final yarn was a little too ‘hard’ for my liking.

    Then an arm muscle decided to protest, so I quit for the night and decided to write you a long treatise instead. [grin]

  37. Ooh! Great timing: I just started reading your blog.

    I have a Romni-cross fleece with lovely LONGGG locks, about 8 to 10 inches (although I might clip off the tips as they are a bit dry and discoloured) and keep reading how long stuff might be best spun from the fold. I’ve washed up a batch of it by Jeannine Bakriges’ method to preserve lock formation and so I’m ready for whatever you can show me.

    Locked and Loaded, as it were.

    Sorry.

  38. Oh and don’t forget that some of the newbies may not know how to determine the length of fibers they are dealing with.

  39. Which way are the Falklands? (Sorry. Marching band humor.)

    Can you send the manchild to cooking camp next year? (My friend Ann did, though now her son loftily declares that he is a *baker*, not a cook.)

    When you were a small blond child in the Andes, did you have sunblock?

  40. Ok, I have a poser – why, when I have been using the spinning from a fold technique, do I then want to spin everything from the fold? Ok, silk for me is a no-brainer. But then my fingers fall into this control rut and soon superwash merino, long alpaca and even very short baby cormo are folded over my finger. It is ridiculous, but true. I am mezmerized by the fine little spiral that comes off the finger tip. I wonder if it is a slippery fiber control thing? Any thoughts?

  41. I’ve never tackled spinning from the fold….

    1. So why & when should I use it?
    2. What advantages / disadvantages does it have?
    3. Is it better for some fibres than others?

  42. I’m happy to read whatever you write, but I just want you to know that the feeling of suffocating futility in the day you describe is *my* day- winter, summer… it’s just having kids to run around, innit? At least you feel like you get something done 3 seasons of the year? hang in there!

  43. I spin from the fold when I spin silk on a spindle. I see some people use it all the time, with all sorts of fibres. I thought it was mainly for long fibres – why would one want to do it on medium sized wool for example?

  44. OK, having read some of the comments, spinning from the the fold is definitely not what I thought it was.. eek! So, to re-iterate the first comment, What is it? And how do you do it? Ta muchly! 🙂

  45. How about does spinning counterclockwise and plying clockwise. Does it matter? Is it better for crochet? Is it better for continental knitting?

    Seems to be one of those things that some assert strongly. Opinions?

  46. I am so excited about this! Everyone has asked my questions! But I do have a request…details. Like how tightly do you hold the fiber, how big a piece do you hold? Ya know, questions that a mental brick would ask. a-hem..

    Ah the nagging. I think most women develop the nag, it is the thread that holds some sort of order. I have no kids, but I do nag (constantly remind) a dh. The decision is, do I shut up and let him run off without a towel to teach him a lesson? Nah, because I know that I will have to deal with the no-towel-consequences.

  47. Ah, but nagging gets results, which provides positive feedback for the mother.

    Does congragulating the child for remembering their lunch and sunscreen without prompting work better? In the short term? In the long term?

    Something for the moms out there to ponder.

  48. And what if the towel isn’t taken to the child who forgot it. What if it becomes the childs responsibility to remember if and if they don’t, then too bad.

  49. Why would you want to spin from the fold?

  50. Hey I think my name was mentioned and they actually meant me! (thanks Denny! I never know anymore because there is another Glenna in the fiber world, and this takes getting used to.) I usually spin from the fold with silky type fibers like silk, soy silk, bamboo, tencel, etc. and some blends where there are longer staples. It works great on a charkha when you want to get a finer yarn. I used it on the July batts, which were charkha spun and then plyed on a bobbin and flyer wheel.

  51. Golly, I’m really out of my depth here…I’m a brand new wet-behind-the-ears drop spindler (as in, just learned in two wee lessons from nice people, have spindle and small amount of fiber, messing up same fiber but still game) and watched your video on YouTube. You’re a very fine teacher (as I expect you know) and it was really helpful, I’m sure I’ll be watching it again. Glad I found you in the Fibernet.

  52. all my questions were already asked by others, so i’ll just say that i’m looking forward to reading your answers. thank you for your generosity in sharing your knowledge!

  53. My first comment to your blog but I’ve been a long time reader. Like you I work at home/farm and have found that even tho feeling like nothing is accomplished, others comment all the time I get so much done – so perception/perspective is important, don’t be discouraged. Secondly, although it’s hard to always implement, I try to make certain days for certain types of work – Monday is a Fiber day to rest from Sunday which is often a more physical day, a day to do website work, a day to weave, a day to spin -etc. House work is done in between and sometimes assigned it’s own day. Our great grandmother’s washed on Monday, ironed on Tuesday … I take solace that they needed that structure as much as I do. All the very best, Liese

  54. Here’s a question–not related to spinning from the fold, but about storage of prepared fibers.

    I buy beautiful, spins like buttah prepared fiber, but by the time I get around to spinning it, it’s no longer easy to spin, it’s compacted, slightly felted, full of neps.

    I’ve tried storing in fabric or paper bags, not plastic, but this keeps happening. Also when I’m carrying fiber around with me to spin. Any suggestions? I don’t think I’m the only person who has this problem.

  55. Two topics that would be extremely useful for me:
    1) yes drivebands both plastic and cord and how do you select, what to look for and how to join the cord type to avoid the thump whump bump as you tradle
    2) silk …what happens to the fiber when you beat the skein. My teacher told me to beat the wet skein but I forgot to ask what is going that brings out the sheen when you do this.

    Thanks Abby!

  56. Since you said it was okay to ask about anything, how about hand cards for wool. What are your favorites and why?

  57. I looked at this again! Your blogs are so wonderful! Thanks so very much for the sharing all your wisdom!

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