I’m in the middle of a dyeing session, so this is a quick summary of some finished projects.
First up is a Mobius neck warmer/cowl (I’m not too sure how small it can be and still be called a cowl). This was knitted in garter stitch from my first coreless core spun yarn and is in Shetland and Mohair:
Second up is the crepe yarn, finally finished. On the right is the skein I finished months ago, and on the left is the skein I finished a few days ago:
Finally, is some more coreless core spinning. This time in Blue Faced Leicester and bamboo fibre. This started as some dyed Blue Faced Leicester tops (not my dyeing). The colours were perfect and the top looked lovely. However, try as I might I could not persuade it to draft. I tried fluffing it, attenuating it, stripping it down… but as soon as I tried drafting it the fibres refused to budge. In the end I concluded I’d need to card it before spinning it.
I’ve read about breaking tops into parts and sorting by colour to create a gradient. This is what I started to do, I stripped the top into thin lengths, then pulled these apart. I sorted them roughly into piles, then sorted through again, until I had seven piles in a range of colours. However, the piles were not all the same size, so I went through my commercially dyed BFL tops and found two with similar colours, that I added in differing amounts to the piles. Then I added black gold bamboo (which is a lovely charcoal colour) to provide a consistent base (and tone the colours down slightly) and some contrast colours in bamboo and BFL. I created 7 batts, on the drum carder, from these piles. I’ve been spinning them for a little while now, and finished them yesterday:
Before I came home yesterday, I’d finished, washed and dried my first skein of crepe yarn.
Late this afternoon the sun finally popped out from behind the rain clouds that have kept us indoors for much of the day. I grabbed my skein and my camera and put a pretty book and the skein on top of the stacks of paperwork and books that seem to have migrated to the part of my desk I’m trying to keep clear for project photography (it stays clear for about 5 minutes, then gets invaded by the usual junk all over again). So I added the macro lens to my camera and tried to hide the junk.
I’m fairly happy with this as a first skein of rickrack yarn. It’s a long way from perfect, but it’s predominantly balanced and overall the yarn is interesting. For the first time ever I think I’m going to need to sample this before I decide on an end project. And there’s still a second skein to complete…
I have paused from what has turned out to be a mammoth plying task. I’m working on the last stage of the 3-ply crepe yarn. I started working at about 8pm this evening, setting up the skein of (deliberately) over twisted 2-ply onto the swift and the thin z-twist single onto the built-in Lazy Kate of this wheel. I eventually stopped about halfway through the plying at 10:30pm when my neck was starting to feel achy.
When I started the plying I had to fight the wheel while I persuaded it to take up the yarn (all previous spinning on this wheel has had me fighting too strong take-up and having to lace the singles once or twice between the flyer arms to get a reasonably gentle take-up). I swore when the yarn jumped out of the open flyer hook (there is no orifice on this wheel) and tangled up instead of winding onto the bobbin. I was worried that working from a skein of yarn from the swift would give me problems, but this has worked well. Sometimes my single and two ply has got a bit tangled, so next time I’ll set up the swift on my right-hand side instead of behind my wheel.
Anyway, I eventually managed to get a balance between twist and take-up and I started being able to think about the yarn I was producing. It took quite a while to get the right way to work on this. I say the right way, but until I’ve washed and set the twist it’s going to be difficult to tell if it’s completely right. However, the yarn does seem to snap into place when it’s going correctly. I’m not holding the yarn in the way I would normally when plying (the single I’m holding fairly straight and the 2 ply I’m feeding in at a slight angle). I’m working at it slowly so that I can control the amount of twist. This means that I’m taking much longer to ply this yarn than I would normally take.
My yarn is not yet consistent, but as you can see when it’s working it’s very pretty. I’m looking forward to seeing this washed and set.
It’s been a while since I last made a blog post. Various reasons, including the continued poor weather. Even though it’s now March and the crocuses and the early daffodils are up, we are still having cold, snowy, frosty and grey days. Sadly this makes taking pictures tricky. However, the sun finally came out briefly yesterday afternoon, so I’ve been able to take pictures of work in progress.
A few weeks ago I received a lovely spinning book for my birthday. It’s The Spinner’s Book of Yarn Designs by Sarah Anderson:
Yes, I did just grab that image from the preview on Amazon’s site.
The book’s absolutely brilliant. Full of inspiring techniques and ideas for yarn constructions I’ve not come across before. I love the clear diagrams that show the construction of a yarn at a glance. My first project inspired by this is a 3 ply yarn, with a construction similar to a cabled yarn. It’s called a Crepe yarn. 2 singles are spun in one direction, then plied. Then a second single is spun in the plied direction and plied with the original 2 ply. Are you still following? No? The “at a glance” diagram would really help here – which is one reason the book is so brilliant.
I’m spinning this with a thick single from my dyed BFL (the pinky/orange one), here it is a few weeks ago:
and two thin singles of natural white Shetland. I was aiming at a Bubble or Rickrack Crepe yarn, but I don’t think there’s enough difference in the thickness of the singles. At the two ply stage I have two almost full bobbins of yarn. However, I don’t have enough bobbins for the wheel I’m using for this spinning, so have wound the 2-ply off into skeins:
As there’s a lot of unbalanced twist in this 2-ply, the skeins are a little like super-scrunchies. I’m sure there are good reasons not to handle the yarn-in-progress in this way, but I’m afraid I don’t know them (a little knowledge at this stage may be a dangerous thing). At the moment I’m working on the second white single. When I ply I’ll put each skein onto my swift and ply from the swift and a bobbin. I’ve not done this before! It could all turn into a huge tangle of wild yarn!