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From Fiber to Yarn on a Drop Spindle

By Sonya
Several months ago, we purchased some commercial roving from two Romeldale/CVM fleeces from Oak Tree Farm here in Durango, and I finally had the chance to divide it into 4-oz bundles for individual sale.  With the remaining bit of the ecru roving, I decided to spin up some as a shop sample using my drop spindle.  Since I'd never spun Romeldale before, and have a raw CVM fleece at home waiting to be processed (by me), it was perfect!

I thought it might be interesting to those who don't spin, or were maybe thinking it might be fun to learn, to see the steps in turning fluffy processed wool into yarn, so I took pics of the process.

About the fiber:  the Romeldale/CVM sheep is an American breed created in the early part of the 20th century by crossing two breeds:  the Romney and Rambouillet, to create a sheep that could be raised for both its wool and meat.  CVM stands for California Variegated Mutant, and is essentially the multi-color version of the Romeldale.  Romeldale wool is considered one of the fine wools (Rambouillet sheep are closely related to the fine wool breed all of us are well familiar with: the merino).

Shown below:  the bundled roving and finished skein of 2-ply yarn


Then, the singles needs to be twisted back on itself in order to form the 2-ply yarn.  To do this with a small amount of fiber as I had, I created a plying bracelet which allowed me to ply both ends of the singles together instead of spinning a separate singles to ply with it.  To create a balanced yarn, the ply direction needs to be opposite of the spinning direction, so counter-clockwise, or "S" direction. 

Shown below is the plied yarn (known as a "cop") on the spindle, and placed through two holes created in a small box acting as a lazy kate (kates are what you place bobbins or spindles in or on in order to wind off the yarn): 





Next, a niddy-noddy (yes, this is the actual name!) is used to wind the yarn off the spindle and into the skein we are all familiar with.  A niddy-noddy is basically a central shaft with two perpendicular arms that are at 90 degrees to each other.  This allows the yarn to easily be wound on in a continuous manner.  This wooden niddy-noddy is the one we carry at the shop.  Each full wrap is 2 yards, so it's easy to calculate the total yardage; this little skein weighs 20 g. and is 58 yards, making it a heavy sport weight yarn.

After the yarn is wound onto the niddy-noddy, it is tied with figure-8 ties to prevent tangling, and then given a quick soak and swing to "set" the twist in the yarn, and allowed to dry.  Then, it's all ready to be turned into a knit or crocheted project (or, in my case, added to my "handknit stash" bin). 





Knitting Tip:  When counting stitches on your needles, count in groups of 5 - this number grouping is the easiest for the human eye to discern.  Try it and see - it will save time and improve your counting accuracy!

Did You Know....?

Crochet hooks come in two different styles, based on the shape and taper of the head and neck.  Hooks, shown from L to R:  Clover Amore, Boye aluminum, Susan Bates aluminum.  The Clover and Boye hooks are the "tapered" style; you can see the neck narrows down towards the head.  The Bates is known as an "in-line" style of hook, and is the same width throughout the length of the hook In this photo showing the hooks from the side, the differences are quite noticeable as well:  the Clover and Boye are tapered forward, with the tip the hook being rounded; the Bates has a deeper throat and a straight profile.  There is no advantage or disadvantage to either style of hook - just personal preference.  Crocheters do often find that one style or the other is easier to do certain stitches. 
We carry all of these brands (plus Knitter's Pride hook sets. also tapered) here at the shop.  Feel free to try them out before you buy to see which style works best for you!