Sunday, August 30, 2009

Them's Fighting Words

There are few sentences in the English language that enrage me more than this one:
 "You can't do that." 
The instant I hear those words spoken, I have an immediate urge to run off and Do That. Or figure out a way that It Can Be Done.

I would guess that about 80% of the time, You Can Do That, although doing so might turn out to be expensive, awkward, or embarrassing. Or all three.

One of the biggest Can't Do That's around in Fiberland is the myth that you can't spin long fibers, such as silk and alpaca, on a charka. For those unfamilar with this device, it's basically a compact spinning wheel originally designed for spinning cotton. Closed, this size of this elegant machine is a bit smaller than a hard-backed book, hence its name book charka.


Spinners use charkas for other short fibers, such as cashmere and camel, but the First Law of Charkaness states that for longer fibers, You Can't Do That.

Having received this gorgeous cherrywood Bosworth charka as an early birthday gift, I dutifully spun the enclosed sample of mindnumbingly boring white cotton and then fooled around with some cashmere and camel. Okay, got the concept. Now on to the You Can't Do That fibers.

Out comes a lovely silk/merino batt from Corgi Hill Farms. These batts are not carded to homogeneity. Instead, the long, lush silk fibers are layered in between the beautifully dyed merino.



Contrary to expert opinions, not only can silk be spun on a charka, it spins beautifully with nary a blob.The stuff was just meant for long draw. It spins thick, it spins thin, it spins any way you like your yarn.


Here are some samples--medium, thin, and really thin.


 And while we are busting myths, we might as well explode the Second Law of Charkaness: You Can't Spin Thick Yarn on a Charka. Sure you can, and here are some thicker samples to prove it:


Of course, the spindles on the Bosworth are small and delicate, so spinning yarn of this weight would fill them up in a few minutes. However, I have a Babe charka too, which sports a spindle fashioned from a nice, big knitting needle (courtesy of a fortuitous swap with Janice in Georgia).  That spindle can hold almost as much as a clunker drop spindle. So there.

I figured I was on a roll, so I pulled out a one-ounce spindle and spun some gossamer laceweight from the batt. Current opinion is that you can't spin gossamer-weight on a spindle that heavy. I went up to the heaviest weight spindle I own, a 1.2 ouncer. And spun gossamer on that too.

All this, by the way, was accomplished in my round kitchen, which, when we requested this eccentric design from a herd of architects and builders, were told: "You Can't Do That."

20 comments:

Kitty Kitty said...

Happy Early Birthday!!!

I am so jealous. I have always wanted a charka wheel. I saw one and fell in love the first time I went to MDS&W. I just couldn't justify buying one. Your yarn looks absolutely beautiful.

Dave said...

Yay for you for dispelling more myths! :-)

Lovely charka. I don't need one of those. Really, I don't. No, I don't.

Early Happy Birthday!

Batty said...

Yeah, them's fighting words. And you showed 'em! That came out amazing.

Rosemary said...

Wow, that stuff sure is pretty. I'ma sucker for blue and white.

Yeah, "You can't do that" always pisses me off, too. heh.

Rosemary

Janice in GA said...

I always thought it wasn't so much "you can't do that" as "you can do it, but this is not the optimal tool for the job."

Different ways of looking at it, I guess.

sayingthings said...

Rock on, Fleegle.

adrienne said...

That's very cool. And yes, I've spun some of my finest yarn on my heavier spindles. (mostly because a 1oz spindle that spins well is much better than a .4oz spindle that doesn't!)

LittleBerry said...

I do love your style ;o)

Bunny Queen said...

I usually figure that "you can't do that" either means that the speaker isn't willing to try, isn't imaginative enough to figure it out, or is just lazy. :)

KPiep said...

The words "You can't do that" are - in our family - notoriously good at sparking rather imaginative bouts of 'can-do' that yield spectacular results. It's a given! We just all LOVE to prove people wrong! (And could be why the green woman so easily waltzed into my life once upon a time)

Carol said...

Ah yes, the Famous Words. I don't understand it. 99% of the time, it can too be done. Might be silly or time wasting etc, but it CAN be done. It's just not worth the time etc.

Sheila Bosworth said...

Brava! You go, girl!

Jane said...

Wow! You scored Big with that charka! What a lovely "pre- birthday" gift. Remind me never to get into a "throw down" with you LOL! Your spinning is wonderful as usual and you can obviously spin anything you want to on that Bosworth. I have some Corgi Hill batts but I'm busy spinning that heavenly Cashmere I got from your Etsy shop so it will have to wait :-)

Kathy Kathy Kathy said...

But don't the Corgi Hill batts have dog hair? Have you spun that, too?

gayle said...

I love Corgi Hill batts!
And I agree on the "Fighting Words" - I've done some of my best (and sometimes stupidest) efforts as a result of being told "That can't be done."

larascreations said...

Yay! I'm late to the party here but yay anyway :-). Happy Birthday early and congrats on persuasiveness! I knew you could find a way, hehehe.

.....gotta get me one of those babies, too.....soooo pretty.

~ Phyllis ~ said...

Looks like you showed them. Nice yarn.

EGunn said...

Ha ha! My favorite answer to "you can't do that"? "Watch me." =)

Beautiful yarn! I've been trying to work my way down to gossamer on my 1.7 oz drop spindle, but I'm not there yet. Just have to keep trying, I guess. Glad to know that it can, in fact be done, though. Thanks!

Anonymous said...

Если врач знает название вашей болезни, это еще не значит, что он знает что это такое. Никогда не приписывай человеческой зловредности того, что можно объяснить обыкновенной глупостью. Человек может долго жить на деньги которые он ждет. Реальность это иллюзия вызываемая отсутствием алкоголя. Женщины едят за разговорами, мужчины едят заедой.

Sharon V said...

Oh thank you! Monika of Smoking Hot Needles referred me to your page and right on time.

I just bought an Indian Charkha with the intention of spinning merino, but hoped to be able to spin some BFL and my silk hankies on.

Your entry dispelled the myths I was going to try to dispel through trial and error (thank you!) which would have taken me months, if not years, and now I'm going to start teaching myself to spin on my own charkha.

Thank you!