Thursday, May 10, 2012

Spinning fluff.

I'm spinning, and blogging, early today. Later I'm going to see the Avengers and expect to spend two days drooling into a pillow while my nervous system tries to recover. This is why I see maybe one movie a year in theaters. But for the Avengers, I'm willing to drool a bit. (Thanks to RDJ, I will probably drool DURING the movie, too, but for a different reason.)

Okay, fluff. When I say fluff, I mean the usually short-staple, very small micron count fibers that float all over and get stuck to everything when you try to spin them. It doesn't entirely have to do with staple or micron count, though. Wool, for instance, usually doesn't fluff and float, because of its molecular charge and the scales on the surface of the fibers that work much like microscopic velcro.

No, fluff is the stuff you accidentally trail through the house, stick to your husband's Navy uniforms (that was amusing - for me, not him), get in your eyes, your mouth and nose. In my experience, they include nylon, bamboo and carbon fiber, silk, some camelids and angoras. In the case of the protein fibers, it can depend on how they're processed, too. Alpaca top, for instance, has been smoothed, combed, and steamed or ironed flat. Flat on a single-fiber level. With no crimp to help the fibers hold on to each other, you're back to fluff, and finding it in the cat's eyes.

Currently I'm battling the nylon in the top I'm spinning. Here's how I'm mostly winning.

Weapon one:
A lint roller. Don't know how common these are outside the US, but here you can get them nearly everywhere, even the grocery store (in the pet aisle, usually). It's essentially a wide strip of sticky tape, wound up on itself with the sticky side out. Roll it over yourself, and it picks up lint, cat hair, and, woohoo, fluff. I keep one on my spinning table, and when I'm done spinning, before I move at all, I go over myself AND THE CHAIR to pick up the fluff before I track it all over the house. Make it automatic; before you get up for anything short of the house being on fire, de-fluff yourself. On bad days, I even roller my hands and hair.

For all the little knotty bits and snarls you pull off the fiber as you spin, there are two, no, three options. One, you can stick them on the lint roller. Two, you can stick them to your clothes and roller them up with the rest of the fluff. Or, you can have an auxiliary spot to stick the gunk. Wool works best. Currently, I'm using a Crazy Zauberball, because it was there.

You can see a little string of pink fluff sitting on top of it. No, that's not a marble, there. It's a quartz sphere. I can't be the only one with a crystal ball on my spinning table, can I? That's also paper medical tape in the green thing - handy for wrapping around sore fingers so you can spin anyway.

A related issue is fluff in the eyes. My greatest trick, that I'm passing on to you: NEVER SPIN WHITE OR BEIGE FLUFF. Ever. Once it's in your eye, you can't find the damn stuff. Colored fibers usually show against your eyeball and are much easier to pick out. It also pays to cultivate your eye doctor; many are willing to take you in between appointments and pick out fibers you can't get. Knit them a scarf for Christmas, they'll be your slave. (The one time I resorted to the optometrist, he didn't even charge me.)

Most of this stuff can be applied to knitting, as well. For instance, when I pick blobs of unspun lint out of the yarn I'm knitting, I stick it to the arm of the couch. Once I'm up and moving later, it's very easy to grab the lint roller and run it over the couch a couple times. It might even dislodge a few cat hairs, as a bonus.


Freyalyn said...

My OH has a shaved head, and when he walks under the drying frame full of fibre he can end up with intersting coloured driftings across his stubbly bonce! I've never had problems with fibre in my eye (touch wood) even with really drifty stuff!

Jennifer Crowley said...

The fluff in the eye sounds awful. I haven't had that problem either, but I try not to work with the types of fluff that would leave me cursing.

Donna Lee said...

If you use alpaca that hasn't been processed (or you've washed and carded yourself) it's fluff. Makes gorgeous soft yarn but is everywhere. You should not eat food right after you spin this stuff unless you roller yourself first. The results are less than tasty otherwise.

Corlis said...

Fluff in the eyes sounds a bit like sawdust in the eyes, painful and gunky. I really hope the analogy doesn't extend to breathing in fluff fibers, although technicolor snot would be sorta cool.

Roxie said...

Living with three cats has inured me to tufts of fluff stuck to everything. Undercoat fluffs, and guard hairs, like elf shot, work their pointed ends into any surface and just burrow inexorably down. If I'm going to spin,I wear a slinky polyester dress that nothing will stick to, and ignore the rest of it. Fluff in the eyes sounds horrible! Worse than hairs in the mouth.

Amy Lane said...

Okay. I'm SO going to talk about spinning in my next knitting novella-- you have so much good stuff to say!