~Attenuate. I have to admit that when fellow student, Diane, used that word for pre-drafting roving I started to chuckle . “Attenuate?” my microbiologist brain thought. “That’s is done to viruses to create vaccines. “Or,” my physicist’s brain said, “to turn down the volume.” Attenuate fiber roving? I’m sure she thought I was losing it! I went to my trusty online dictionary and found this:
[v. uh-ten-yoo-eyt; adj. uh-ten-yoo-it, -eyt] Show IPA verb, at·ten·u·at·ed, at·ten·u·at·ing, adjective; verb (used with object)
- to weaken or reduce in force, intensity, effect, quantity, orvalue: to attenuate desire.
- Bacteriology, Immunology, to render less virulent, as a strainof pathogenic virus or bacterium.
- Electronics, to decrease the amplitude of (an electronic signal).
- to make thin; make slender or fine. To attenuate a grove of trees
Ah ha, definition 4; to make thin. As applied to spinning, to attenuate is to pre-draft the roving. Roving is not like batt, the fibers are not all wonderfully parallel to each other. It is important to attenuate or pre-draft the roving both to thin it out and to make the fibers more parallel. Take my word, I was not attenuating roving when I first started spinning and I kept battling the fiber and getting big clumps! Our teacher said that a piece of roving should become about four times it’s length if attenuated properly. Now, I can’t say that I was attenuating this much.
Time to find out. I dragged out my “Adirondack” hand painted BFL Roving from Greenwood Fiberworks. I divided the yarn into two 2.0 ounce parts.
I pulled a hank of fiber from the roving. Remember, always pull roving NEVER cut the fibers. I measured the length and then I attenuated the roving hank and measured again. By the time I pull the last bit of fiber into a fine tip to attach to the spinning wheel it will have been pre-drafted about 4 times. You can see the difference in thicknesses. (Excuse the wonky colors, the real colors are in the top and bottom pics.)
I’m sure there are spinner who do not pre-draft and do just fine, but for all of us newbies I HIGHLY recommend this step. Most of the experienced spinners in our class do this step.
Using the American Long Draw, which I find is easier for me, I spun the first 2 ounces. I’m still a newbie and didn’t spin over the summer because of the heat. This is my first time back to the Mariah, my spinning wheel. You can see a twist, I forgot to pull the yarn back out after a stop. Dang, it’s a learning experience! I’ll try to spin the other half today so I can ply. And don’t judge the spinning I’m still learning. BFL is the SOFTEST yarn, I loved every minute I spent spinning it. If you’re a newbie, treat your self to this yarn. I found it so much easier than the bulk textures I’d begun with.
My hints today for newbies: 1. purchase a GOOD spindle, I found that Goldings spindles are wonderful, 2. attenuate or pre-draft your roving, and 3. buy BFL, I felt the most successful with this yarn. It didn’t seem to clump together when drafting the way other fibers recommended for beginners did.