I sent an ungodly number of fleeces to my favorite processor last month. (The vow to decrease the amount of fiber flowing into the stash only referred to yarn.) Cummington will see me in attendance. It will be my fifth spinaversary. MAS&W is where I usually fall down hardest in fleece purchasing. I can't do that this year.
My use of spinning fiber has reached a bottleneck of frustration. Spinning a default yarn is going beautifully. I finished Enchanted Knoll Farm's Bliss merino65%/silk35%, colorway Esmaralda, purchased at SPA 2010. Two ounces of turning the colors of a peacock tail into yarn felt lush. Fingering weight, I can use it for a scarf, mittlets, or combine it with a solid for a colorwork hat.
Fleeces require more commitment. They are purchased in pound(s) quantity with a sweater intention. Two fleeces are in process on my wheels. Goal: three ply woolen yarn, worsted weight.
Baritone is a Cummington Coopworth, circa 2006. I sampled. I swatched to determine twist and grist of the singles. I (much later) sampled how much twist to put in the three ply, counted treadles, washed the skeinlets. I then plyed three bobbins together. It is barely related to what I saw in my initial sampling.
I check the twist while spinning using JMM's plyback method. That gives a good picture of a 2-ply yarn. It is harder to use that technique to get an accurate sense of a 3-ply yarn.
Let's take a break from fleecy disappointment.
Deliberate practice is a way of evaluating the acquisition of expertise. How do people who are world class chess masters get so good? How do golfers rise to the top of their game? The original article written in 1993 said that people are not naturally gifted at things like golf or chess. Deliberate practice is what creates world class talent. Ericsson has examined this across several kinds of expertise. (Yes, it is very hard to measure, and potentially tainted by memory biases on the part of the subjects.) The best link is here.
It takes 10,000 hours of practice to create expertise. The 10,000 hours have to be structured in a particular way. That is where the "deliberate" part comes in.
The individual has to perform the skill in question. Then the performance is evaluated for what is right, and what isn't so right about the performance. A plan is made to keep what is right, and correct what is wrong. The skill is performed again. This iteration goes on and on.
The Olympic skater who falls in practice is pushing at the edge of her skills, and can improve her performance. The skater who does not fall at all is not trying new jumps. So temporarily poor performance is almost a given when attempting to learn new skills. Not spinning my default yarn in hard.
(Wired Magazine published an article this month that said you will probably click on the links, but you won't finish the article. And that your ability to learn is decreased by the number of links in on-line text. I'm laughing as I give you a link to that article.)
I'm trying to feel better about ruining perfectly good fleece. I am also spinning Felicia, a Romny/Corrie X from Ward Brook Farm. Disciplined as always, plying will wait until I have all the bobbins spun. (One bump remains.)
Waiting until all the bobbins are spun risks Baritone-like letdown. But it gives the most even yarn. Potato/potahto, tomato/tomahto. Deliberate practice continues.