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#313590 05/15/07 12:40 PM
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I can never keep track of which direction my wheel should be moving to get S and Z twist. (For that matter I can't tell you which is which when looking at the yarn.) I've always just made sure to be consistant until I get a skein, because I've never been doing anything with the yarn where it mattered, but I've been thinking about some projects for my yarn where it does matter. I recently came to the realization that if I figured it out once, I could mark my wheel. So which direction is which?

Julie

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If you always spin with the wheel running clockwise or to the right, you will always be spinning correctly.

To Ply 2 or more singles turn the wheel to the left or counterclockwise.

That will neutralize the twist in your yarn.

If you are a right handed crafter, it allows your yarns to feed smoothly into your knitting or crochet project. If you have spun then plied the other way, it will be a fight with the yarn and you will "hate" the yarn.

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I read recently (can't remember where) that if you are spinning fibre for crochet yarn it needs to be S spun otherwise it will unravel. As I have only come across this the once - is this a serious issue, or only relevent when the yarn is lightly spun singles?
Cheers, Caroline


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That is a very old issue. It used to be that it was thought that crochet yarns had to be S plied.

But there is no distinction in the commercially manufactured yarns between knitting yarns and crochet yarns. Can't you just see the racks of yarns being doubled in our crafts outlets?

Any crochet project needs to be finished properly or it will ravel out for sure. I have never had any problem using the knitting yarns available commercially or with my hand spun yarns.

And it isn't even very relevant when using handspun singles. I have used my singles for both crochet and knit. Yes, I was informed that my knitting would "list" in the direction the singles yarn was spun if I used it. It didn't, hasn't through several washes, and I don't believe that "old wives tale" at all.

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Its funny, I'm a member of several spinning groups, and what are old issues to you, are new to a lot of us Down Under, and vice versa. I guess its the internet that has finally allowed us to access and exchange so much more information.
Even spinning books that have been around a long time (in the States) are not that easy to get hold of here as they are very expensive (so I love Amazon) and many spinners here in Australia learned almost in a vacuum as I did. The country town I lived in didn't welcome newcomers to the crafty clique; and many of the craft guilds have since died out, despite the resurgence in spinning.
There is a new generation learning to spin who, provided they have an internet connection, can access all the information they want. The old Australian and Kiwi spinning books are falling to pieces, and many of the modern ones assume that the spinner is using prepared tops, or knows what to do with the raw fleece. Hopefully groups like this can keep a knowledge base of old and new techniques.
Cheers, Caroline


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One of the things I keep realizing as an embroiderer is how forgiving wool is compared to other fibers. I know that when I am embroidering with some types of silk and cotton, it actually makes a difference which end of the thread you stick in your needle. And if you make a mistake, you may as well cut it out. With crewel yarn, it doesn't really matter and in fact the wool hides a multitude of errors!

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Aussie spinner it truly doesn't matter which way you spin for crocheting. I have crochet for years and been spinning for six years now and never ever had a problem. I don't know where this rumour started but i have never known it to make any difference and neither have any of the women in the spinners group i was in. Julie if you train yourself to always spin in one direction 'clockwise' and always ply 'anti clockwise' you won't even have to think about what you are doing. Thats how i over came the confusion when i was a new spinner. Good spinning everyone!

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Yes, all things old are new again. That is some of the problem with our fiber crafts. Also there are the old wives tales to contend with.

The old spinners take for granted that the younger ones know how to card wool, how to wash it, the difference between carding and combing, just loads of stuff.

Books were hard to come by here in the USA ten years ago, if one were rural. I treasure all the books I have accumulated. Some purchases and some precious few gifted to me.

Having sat here under my tree facing a burning mountain learning to spin only from books, I understand what you girls are going through down under! Yes, the mountain was burning when I was learning to spin - lightning strike. I was afraid the fire would come off the mountain and swish across the grasslands.

So ask questions, I will answer them to the best of my ability. If I don't know the answer I have a spinning mistress, by snail mail, who will answer all questions I ask her. She taught me more in a 30 minute session than I had learned in 10 years.

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I also quilt! and know that if you thread the needle wrong you get snarls in the thread that are quite unbelievable! My mother did a lot of embroidery and so does one of my daughters. When daughter was learning to embroider, some stitches were wrong and she just couldn't stand it, so would rip them out or cut them out. She is still the persnickety perfectionist in anything she attempts.

I have done some embroidery, but don't love it enough to get really involved with it. I do know if the threads aren't in needle correctly they snarl ferociously! Maybe that is why I don't care about doing it???

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I'm actually interested in the S vs Z twist more for historical reasons. I have a knitting pattern somewhere for mittens using a specific traditional knitting stitch where you use the same wool spun in an S twist for one strand and a Z twist for the other (knitting in a pattern with 2 strands).

I do habitually always spin in one direction and ply in the other, that part just makes sense to me.

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For sure, the difference in the twist will show up in some knitting patterns for textural emphasis.

Most of those have been reinterpreted to twist the stitch, for instance knitting from the left or the right of the stitch. I am not a proficient knitter, but have read some patterns that twist the stitch.

In old crochet patterns, those before 1930, and Brittish printed patterns, slip stitch is a single crochet, single crochet is their double crochet, etc. It does make for some grand mistakes if a person doesn't pay strict attention before starting.

I lucked out when learning to crochet and knit. I had a very close great aunt who helped me. She was a Brittish war bride, so had a difficult time learning the American form of writing a pattern. We worked on the differences after Tea at least once a week.

Commercially made yarns do not distinguish S and Z twist, and for most people just going to the shop to buy the yarn, they don't know the difference and wouldn't recognize it if it were available.

I do know that it is hard to work with a twist that is "backwards" for you. Lefthanded people deal with that problem a lot. I think that is why they don't like to knit!

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Ohhh, I can avoid knitting in the wrong side of the stitch (which I HATE), if I spin some Z twist yarn? I'm in! Of course, my spinning is not to the quality of producing the thinner gauges I usually prefer to knit yet.

I don't think (at least with commercial yarn) that knitting left handed is hard at all actually. I can do both and I occasionly will knit right handed one way and left back to avoid perling because I can produce a piece of stockinette faster that way, but in most cases, the end result is not to my liking, because every other row leans the other way, so it's actually a sort of pattern stitch. Whether you knit right or left handed, you just have to turn your work at the end of the row so you don't unply your yarn.

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The s or z twist matters in weaving too, especially in card weaving, which is also becoming popular again with the re-enactment groups. It alters the pattern quite dramatically if ignored, so can be made a feature.
I wonder if one spun one's own embroidery yarns if the twist would be soooooo important, ie for rayon, or are some of these fancy yarns actually navaho-plied? I haven't used them but have heard that you can only thread them successfully from one end. I have struck the problem with cotton threads so perhaps that is in the finish, rather than the way they are spun, as it doesn't seem to happen with sewing or knit/crochet threads if used for embroidery.
Sue, like you I love the older books, and try and hang on to them if I can. The book that really inspired me was Rachel Brown's Weaving, Spinning and Dyeing book. My copy is falling to pieces, and at over AUD 75.00 for a second-hand copy (faint with shock!) over here, I won't be replacing it in a hurry! As I recommend it to many newbie spinners I sell spindles to (those who like to build their own equipment) even Ebay is getting expensive due to the competition, LoL! But there is a lot of info in those older books that doesn't appear in the newer ones so my very tattered spinning library is worth its weight in gold!
I do wonder if the twist comes from some of the older spinning techniques like thigh spinning - where you use your hands and no spindle, and knit it as you go along. That would make a lot of sense as the twist would be vital for the whole thing holding together.
Cheers, Caroline, who us desperately fighting a compulsion for some more fleece!


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Well, traditionally Crewel wool is a specific type of wool from a sheep native to somewhere in the British Isles that tends to cause a thread/yarn with a little bit of a curl (crewl) to it. So, I think for that, it's that curl more than the twist that matters. Crewel wool seems to be the most forgiving. I've never seen Navaho-plied embroidery thread.

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Books are expensive anywhere, especially those with art techniques as the subject matter. I hate the thought of granddaughter's text books!! She will be home schooled this coming year, I think, and the more I look into it the more expensive it becomes even with second hand books.

I have never done any of the Crewel embroidery, so have no reference point on that, but know it is a special technique.

I have seen lots of programs for rebinding books. Our museums do summer programs on that during summer school breaks. Have you ever thought about rebinding your precious books?

I was trying to use the Colcha embroidery on Sabanilla. This is an art form from our Spanish explorers in this area of the world. Sabanilla is "little sheet" and is a coarse tabby. The Colcha is similar to the Crewel and the Redwork embroideries. My hand spun wool yarns for the embroidery were very hard to work with. I wasn't thinking of how the twist in it went. Maybe I should get it back out of my UFO box and try again. (UFO = UnFinished Objects)

Ok, I will look up the chapters in my books on S and Z twists and come up with an article for you. Here I have been thinking in terms of woolen and worsted spinning when maybe I should have been thinking of S and Z!!

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Julie, there is a lot of embroidery on Middle-Eastern clothing, is that done in cotton or wool? I would assume that if wool is used it would be from a strong fleece so that there is less likelihood of it rubbing and pilling. It would also need to be much tighter spun so it could withstand the punishment the thread gets as it is embroidered. It would take a fair amount of rough treatment as its woven too. I would presume the sheep are bred more for their meat-production rather than their fleece so the wool would be quite coarse. Most of the ethnic fabrics I saw when in that area years and years ago (in another lifetime?) were very flimsy, and almost see-through at times, so obviously of cotton, although the jackets worn by the women looked as if they were wool, and very heavily embroidered. If I'd known then how interested I'd be about them in the future, I would have paid far more attention to details than I did. According to an Iranian friend, the clothing worn by tribeswomen like the Kochis would have been of the most expensive fabrics they could get hold of, including velvet and silks and satins - they were certainly bright to the point of being lurid. I would assume that much of what they wear now would be mass produced and factory decorated, although the colour choices do not seem to have changed that much.
And I would have to presume that if they were still spinning their own yarn for fabric production, they were using either drop spindles or upright charkhas.
An awful lot of assumptions, lol, I should really quit while I'm ahead, and sink back into lurkdom! But them I'd never know the answers to my ponderings!
Cheers, Caroline


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Sue, I've found an article on pre-historic thigh spinning on Karen Madigans site:BellaOnline ALERT: Raw URLs are not allowed in these forums for security reasons. Please use UBB code. If you don't know how to do UBB code just post here for help - we will help out!


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Well, the reason I don't write about Middle Eastern textiles on my Middle Eastern Culture site (other than the fact that I have to be careful not to overlap with any of the fibre sites), is that I start looking at documents and pictures and asking the same kinds of questions you are, where you really need to be handling the item to answer it. There is so much poor and bad information out there, I really don't want to add to it.

Here's sort of a summary of what I do know - many types of embroidery came to Europe via Egypt and many of the oldest samples are from Egypt. 50 years ago or so it was thought that many of the techniques were invented in Egypt, but it turns out that a combination of market forces and climate resulted in the preservation of samples in Egypt. A lot of embroidery was done on silk with silk thread, linen and wool were also used. Hardanger (which I probably misspelled because I always do), for instance was originally an Egyptian technique on fine silk gauze. Pattern darning was also a very common decorative form.

A web search on Palestian Embroidery turns up some beautiful heavily decorated cross-stitch dresses and traditional motifs.

Ok, end of brain dump.

Julie

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Do not worry about overlapping the Spinning site! It would be very hard for me also, to not hit on knitting and crochet or embroidery to go with the sheep, spinning and whatever else we can do with our hand spun yarns. I don't know if we can cross-post articles of interest on several different sites. I do know there are a lot of Peg Thomas articles on sheep, spinning, knitting, etc that would be very hard to replace. And I know some of them are cross referenced or moved to another site with links to them.

It is a cultural thing that those over in the eastern lands do. My friend Ralph Dunlap was invited to be part of the USA team to go to Uzbekestan (sp?)as a specialist in fiber arts and sheep production, for several trips. Another friend went to another part of the Far East, I can't remember right now which country, as a livestock specialist.

The Karacul sheep are from Uzbekestan originally. Also called the "Fat Tailed Sheep". Most of their wool is very coarse with softer under fiber. Easy to felt, easy to spin, and they do the thigh spin thing too!

Ralph brought back some Wedding Ring scarves from Uzb. They are of very finely spun Mohair and knitted with larger needles. Custom says when girls can spin and knit these they are ready for marriage. The one I bought from Ralph does indeed run through my ring! It is a very fine fiber in silver! Beautiful thing.

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Most of these fabrics are very beautiful and amazingly intricate. Sadly they are not appreciated here in Australia, where hand-made is almost an insult. In some countries these ancient skills are being revived and getting the respect and recognition they deserve, but you have to wonder how many of the actual spinners and weavers are getting a fair price for their work. Almost nothing, I would suspect, considering the opium poppy tends to still be a major crop in those same areas in the Golden Triangle and the Middle East.
There was a company in Sydney importing embroidery from the very, very north of Pakistan, but the wool that was used was not local to the area, nor were the ground fabrics. The importers provided it for them. This would surely cause a subtle change in the embroidery, however unintended, as the colours would gradually alter depending on which colours are fashionable here in the West. A documentary commented on how even the local children were wearing hand knits in a far greater range of colours than was traditional! The yarn used was no longer the local hand-spun.
I've read how this affected the Navaho (sp?) with their traditional rug weaving, but this must have been going on nearly everywhere since the Industrial Revolution, once it became easier and cheaper to use non-traditional materials and colours.
I know that in Scotland (my heritage is showing) the modern tartans are quite dramatically different to those before 1745, when tartans were banned for a long while. By the time they were allowed again there were the huge spinning mills spitting out yarns from modern chemical dyes, so of course the colours changed. There were probably very few people around who had seen an original tartan, even if the setts/patterns had survived.
I know that culture evolves, and that even the ancient Egyptians would have found Roman yarns and fabrics strange, but modern influences may not have quite as beneficial an effect , as has happened in the past.


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Well, while we mourn the loss of tradition, it seems like a constant of human textile history has been the search for and import/export of better dyes! It seems to be a very human trait to want more and more stable colors (or colours smile )

My dad told me that when he went to a college reunion (WUSTL), he noticed that the school colors were red and green and he was sure they'd been maroon and a dark green when he was a student. He asked someone about it and was told that they'd restored the flags and found out that they were just dirty and the original colors were red and green. (The school library has a different story for the change for lighter to darker to lighter.) So, even "tradition" isn't as traditional as we sometimes think!

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In my opinion the only time whether you spin z or s that would affect your knitting or crochet would be if you don't ply and just use singles.Then its logical to me ,but once you've plied i can 't see how it can.Perhaps this is why the rumour started and somewhere plying got thrown into the mix.

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Its a bit like the slant that some people claim can be seen in knitting if you don't ply your yarn. If its over or underspun, regardless of whether its s or z, you will probably have problems using the yarn, particularly if the twist has not been set. I know some spinners say they never set their yarn, and have never needed to, and/or wind off onto a niddy-noddy immediately the bobbin is full, etc and others treat that as heresy.
I accidentally wound off a bobbin the other week and there is a difference between that skein and the others of the same yarn that sat on the bobbin and rested over night, although I'm hoping that will not be so obvious if I decide to ply the yarn. I also tend to err on the side of caution, and set the twist, even if I am going to ply the yarn at a later (or sooner) date.


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On the Moswolt wheel I started with the backward spinning! I told my husband that this would be for crochet. The more I think about it, the more I think it might be easier to crochet without splitting the plys. On this wheel it is easy to remember to do it backward. We shall see how it goes!

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